American Accent – Should This English Pronunciation Be Modeled?
But I would argue that the American accent is making gains internationally and could be set to overtake British English when it comes to “proper English pronunciation.”
Many ESL teachers are now teaching the American accent in their classrooms, whether they personally are American or not. The general consensus in the English language learning and teaching communities is that American English (or at least the American accent) is the future norm. There are several signs pointing in this direction already.
It’s important to note that I’m based in Singapore, and I normally work with adults. I took on my very first high school program just a few weeks ago. When I met the students (members of the speech and debate team), my first question for them was, “Why do all of you sound like me?”
Due to Singapore’s history as a British colony, these students have been taught British English in school and write English according to British conventions. Their spoken English, on the other hand, was much closer to an American accent than a British one.
Their answer was simple – they hear the American accent on television, in music, and on the internet. It’s hard to avoid American English and its influence.
It’s a common trend for young people who are trying to be a part of modern pop culture, to adopt this American style of speaking. The American accent is seen as ‘cool’.
Does this mean that you should also be trying to adopt an American accent? Not necessarily. Unlike most (if not all) accent reduction specialists, I’m a strong advocate for keeping your own accent because it’s such a huge part of your identity. I could never imagine speaking like a Brit or a Singaporean. I’m not sure I could even comfortably take on a regional American accent that wasn’t my own! My accent is an immediate indication of who I am and where I’m from, and I’m proud of that. You should be too!
Instead of trying to change your accent, focus on speaking more clearly. Identify the problem areas that are holding you back, and make simple changes to improve the clarity of your speech. This doesn’t mean that your accent needs to change.
Some of these areas include:
- Stressing your words correctly
- Using appropriate intonation to make your message clear
- Linking words together by following common linking patterns
- Articulating entire words instead of mumbling through
- Slowing down your speaking pace to speak more clearly
- Projecting your voice so people can hear you better
By focusing on clarity over accent, you can remain true to yourself while also being better understood. Plus, you can completely avoid the American versus British accent debate!
For more on this topic, and other great tips to speaking clearly and confidently, visit the English Pronunciation Lab and sign up for the FREE English Pronunciation Short Course. http://www.EnglishPronunciationCourse.com
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