Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Vanessa: Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com. Let's talk about four ways to sound more American when you speak English. Have you ever been watching an American movie and thought, “Oh, it would be great if I could sound like Tom Cruise?” Or maybe you've watched one of my videos already and thought, “I would love to sound like Vanessa.” Well today I'm going to give you some tips to help you make your pronunciation sound more like an American, and by American, I mean the United States of America. There are a couple of things that we need to talk about first though. What in the world is an American accent? Because a lot of people in the U.S. have different styles of speaking, here I'm going to be explaining how to sound like the most general American accent, which is that of news reporters or Hollywood. When you think about Tom Cruise, this is the accent that I'm talking about. I'm not talking about a New York accent, a Southern accent, a California accent. I'm talking about standard American English. Of course, if you want to sound more American, you need to use American expressions instead of British or Australian expressions. If you would like to know some differences between these expressions, make sure you check out the playlist that I'll link here and in the description. Finally, the best way to improve your pronunciation to sound more American or if you want to sound more British or Australian is to shadow, and this means you're imitating word for word everything that that person is saying. You're repeating directly after the speaker. I have a couple of videos where I explain the shadowing technique, so be sure to click there or in the description to check out those videos. It's also great to be able to break down the sounds of a language, and that's what I'm going to do today is talk about four important concepts that you need to include in your speaking if you want to sound more American. Are you ready? The first way that you can sound more American is to change your T sounds to D sounds when they are between two vowels. Let's listen to a sentence that uses a lot of these. Dan: In New York City he wore an exciting sweater because that always made him satisfied. In New York City he wore an exciting sweater because that always made him satisfied. Vanessa: City, exciting, sweater. Here we have at T between two vowel sounds like I mentioned and it's changing to a D. It's not a “Tuh” sound. It is “Duh.” This also happens between words. You heard that always, that always. This isn't always done, but it's often done when native speakers are talking quickly. We link together words by making the final T change into a D, that always. Oh, so this can be used in a lot of different situations. A couple years ago, I had a British friend who I always teased because whenever I asked him to speak in an American accent, the only thing he would say is, “Water bottle, water bottle, water bottle,” again and again and again, and it was so funny because it really is the perfect example of an American accent. It uses the T changing to a D, water bottle, and it also uses one more concept that we're going to talk about a little bit later in this video. Now I want to give you a chance to practice this pronunciation, T changing to a D. We're going to listen to that clip one more time of that sample sentence, and then there's going to be a pause. I want you to read that sentence and try to imitate, try to shadow that pronunciation. Are you ready to use your speaking muscles? Let's do it. Dan: In New York City he wore an exciting sweater because that always made him satisfied. Vanessa: The second way to sound more American when you speak is to use the colored R. What in the world is that? Well it's in the middle of the word when there is an R plus a consonant. A consonant is any letter that's not a, e, i, o, u. It might be RS, RD, any word that has an R plus a consonant. It's going to sound like, “Err, err.” Let's listen to a sample sentence that uses this a lot. Dan: The first word that you learned is the one you heard the most. The first word that you learned is the one you heard the most. Vanessa: Did you notice something in this sentence? There are a lot of different vowel sounds that change to sound like one sound, err. In the word first, there is an I. In the word word, there is an O. In the word heard and learned, there is E, A, but they all sound like “Err, err.” This is the colored R and it's really typical in American English, err, heard. Let's listen to that clip again, and the same as before, I want you to try to imitate and shadow that pronunciation style. Test your pronunciation muscles. Try to sound like an angry dog. First, word, learned. It sounds a little crazy when you're practicing, but of course when you're speaking with other people, you can tone it down, but it's good to exaggerate when you're practicing pronunciation because you're getting your muscles prepared. Then when they're already ready to use those sounds, it will feel more natural. Your muscles will know where to go and then you can tone it down and not sound so crazy when you're speaking with other people. When you're practicing, don't worry about exaggerating. “The first word that I learned.” Take it easy, try it yourself and let's listen and pause, and it's your turn to speak. Dan: The first word that you learned is the one you heard the most. Vanessa: My next tip for sounding American is to include in an E-R at the end of your words, er. This is really typical in American English, so before I explain it any further, let's listen to a sentence that includes this a couple of times. Dan: In the letter he wrote, “Remember to water the flowers.” In the letter he wrote, “Remember to water the flowers.” Vanessa: When my British friend was saying, “Water bottle,” this was the second American sound that he was using, the E-R at the end of the word, er, water. “Don't forget to water the flowers. Remember to water the flowers,” and this is going to really test your R pronunciation. We used it in the previous tip and now we're using it, er, again. You really need to make sure your Rs are strong and powerful. “Remember to water the flowers.” All right, let's listen to that clip one more time and then we're going to pause, and I want you to say it out loud. Speaker 2: In the letter he wrote, “Remember to water the flowers.” Vanessa: My fourth and final tip is a specific contrast with British English. It is the ending A-R-Y. Again, we're talking about R because R is essential in English and it's essential in a lot of different languages. I think oftentimes the R is the most challenging sound in other languages because it's so integral. Well in this case, A-R-Y at the end of words is going to indicate that in American English we're going to pronounce the full word. Library, secretary, military. Do you hear that ending? Ary, ary, ary. Library. Cool. We're going to say the full word. Let's listen to a quick sentence that uses a couple of these examples. Speaker 2: At the library, the secretary read a book about the military. At the library, the secretary read a book about the military. Vanessa: In American English, you're going to pronounce each of the final letters, A-R-Y, military. In British English, they often cut out the A, so instead of, “Military,” it would be, “Military, military.” That A is just gone, but in American English, each of those letters are pronounced, “Military, ary.” Let's listen to this clip one more time, and then I want to pause and let you have a chance to repeat the sentence yourself. Speaker 2: At the library, the secretary read a book about the military. Vanessa: How did you do with these American English pronunciation sentences? Did you challenge your pronunciation? Do you think that you can sound more American after watching this video? I hope that these tips are useful to you, and let me know in the comments below. Are there any other words that you can use to sound more American using these four tips? Let me know, and I hope that you enjoyed this lesson. I'll see the next time. Bye. The next step is to download my free e-book, Five Steps to Becoming a Confident English Speaker. This will help you know what is the next step in your English journey to help you really master English and speak fluently. Thanks so much and I'll see you later. Bye.