American Accent vs British Accent
Many students claim that they only study “the British accent” in their schools. Consequently, the American accent is unfamiliar to their ears. This blog post will demonstrate on some of the differences in both accents, the British and the American accents. Some of the major differences between the two accents are the pronunciation of several vowel sounds, and the pronunciation of the letters “r” and “t.” The pronunciation of the vowels /ɔ/ as in “all” “awesome,” and /æ/ as in “castle” and “class” are the most noticeable vowel differences. Also, “atom” and “Adam” are pronounced the same in American English. (The second vowel in each of these words is reduced. That’s why the “o” of atom and the second “a” of Adam sound exactly the same.)
Considering consonant sounds, Americans pronounce all of the “r”s, whereas in British English the final “r” and an “r” before another consonant are often silent. For example, the words “for” sounds like “foe” in British, and the word “morning” sounds like “moaning.” The letter “t” in the words “better” and “water” is pronounced differently in the two accents. The “t” between two vowels usually sounds similar to a “d” in American English. Thus, “latter” and “ladder” sound exactly the same. Several verbs in the past tense are spelled with “ed” in American English and “t” in British English and are thus pronounced differently. For example Americans say “learned” and “burned” whereas British speakers say “learnt” and “burnt.”
If you learned English as an adult or a teenager in school, you may have noticed that you speak English a little bit differently from native speakers because of your misuse of intonation, rhythm and timing. In other words, everyone who learns a new language after childhood carries some of the sounds and rhythms of the native language into the new language. There is nothing weird about it, it’s just normal. So if there is a sound in the new language that we don’t have in our first language, we will usually substitute it with whatever is similar in our current sound system. That’s what gives us a “foreign accent.” Perhaps, there are some people who have absolutely no trouble picking up and adapting to the accents of different countries as they go along, these people are very few and far between. What happens most of the time is that the people who speak English as a second language simply take the accent of their native language and apply it to English. This is exactly how foreign accents are made.
The question on many people’s minds may be: is having a foreign accent really a problem? Well, the answer to that question is that in some cases, having a foreign accent is not really a problem. In fact, the foreign accents can be beautiful but most of the time it sounds really weird to the natives’ ears. This is why you may feel that your foreign accent is making you uncomfortable or is making life inconvenient for you. Therefore, you should pick a topic that you can speak about for three to four minutes. Record yourself giving this speech. Listen to the recording and write down all of the errors that you have heard in your speech. Then, re-record the same speech, and try to correct the mistakes that you made before. Repeat this same speech 3 or 4 times, trying to sound better each time. Watch an American movie over and over again, rewinding certain scenes and repeating them out loud. Be creative. The main ingredient to success is motivation. If you are motivated to learn, you will automatically start listening to native speakers and trying to sound like them.