Free American Accent Quiz and Tutorial
If you are interested in developing a standard American English accent, you have come to the right place. This tutorial provides free training that will allow you to learn the accurate pronunciation of each sound in American English. An accent is comprised of three basic components: pronunciation, intonation, and connection. Variations in pronunciation, intonation and connection cause one to speak with a specific accent. The purpose of this tutorial is to teach you how to first hear the sound correctly, then produce the sound in isolation, and finally produce the sound at the word level.
Below is a list of phonetic symbols that can be associated with sounds utilized in American English. Even though you may not recognize these phonetic symbols, they correlate with the sounds found in the practice tutorial. The sounds listed are those that most individuals speaking Japanese as their first language will most likely need to address when attempting to speak English with an American accent. We have indicated which position the errors are typically found based on where the sound is located within a word. The three options are initial (first sound of the word), medial (middle sound of the word), and final (last sound of the word). After reviewing the list of sounds, please find the directions for using the Free American Accent Quiz and Tutorial below.
/b/ initial and final
/v/ initial and final
/θ/ initial and final; (Voiceless th sound)
/ð/ initial and final; (Voiced th sound)
/z/ initial and final
/ʃ/ initial; (sh sound)
/t ʃ/ initial and final; (ch sound)
/d ʒ/ initial and final; (j as in John sound)
/ŋ/ final; (ng as in going sound)
/r/ initial and final
/θr/ initial; (Voiceless th sound)
/ɪ/ initial, medial, and final
/e/ initial, medial, and final
/ɛ/ initial, medial, and final
/æ/ initial, medial, and final
/ʌ/ initial, medial, and final
/ɝ/ initial, medial, and final
/ʊ/ initial, medial, and final
/o/ initial, medial, and final
/a/ initial, medial, and final
/oɚ/ initial, medial, and final
We recommend that you review this entire document and print the contents before leaving our site to access the tutorial. This link “Free American Accent Tutorial” will allow you to start the free accent reduction exercises. Once you have selected the link, you will need to select either consonants or vowels. When beginning, you may want to start with consonants as most individuals find the work with vowels a bit more difficult.
We recommend starting by selecting the voice icon. This selection divides all of the consonants into two groups. This group contains the voiced consonants, which are produced when the vocal folds inside your larynx (voice box) vibrate. The other choice includes the voiceless consonants, which are produced without the vocal folds vibrating. When you begin, we recommend focusing your efforts on the voiceless consonants first. After you select voiceless you will see the list of all voiceless consonants spoken in American English.
To pronounce the sounds correctly, first you must be able to hear the sound accurately. One of the reasons you have an accent while speaking American English is because you are probably only speaking and hearing the sounds you learned to produce in your native language when you were younger. After years of speaking a different language other than American English, your brain and ears may be misperceiving or omitting some of the American English sounds that are not used in your native language. Training yourself to hear the sounds that you have been subconsciously “ignoring” is a very important first step toward your goal of decreasing your accent when speaking American English.
American English has sounds that you may have never pronounced. If you are not hearing the sound correctly, you must first train your ears before training your mouth. Ask a friend or relative to play the sounds in isolation (sound only) using this tutorial. Of course, this is a quiz, so do not look at the computer screen when they select the sound. While they play the sound, you should write the letter or letters of the sound you hear. This will help you determine which sounds you know well and which sounds you should address. Once you can name the sound correctly with at least 50% accuracy, you may begin training your mouth to say the sound.
First practice the sound by itself (in isolation) repeatedly by playing the sound and then repeating the same sound out loud exactly like the model.
After you have mastered the sound by itself, use the other free tutorial examples to practice the sound at the beginning of a word, in the middle of a word, and at the end of a word as needed.
You are on your way to reducing your accent! Just train yourself to pronounce all of the voiceless consonants, then the voiced consonants, and finally the vowels. If you are able to change your pronunciation for the sounds you were using incorrectly when speaking English, you will be able to reduce your accent by at least 50%!