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How to Do an American Accent

Learn how to do an American accent from voice and speech coach Andrea Caban in this Howcast video.

Transcript

Here's some tips for your general American accent. Now, general
American isn't actually a regional accent. It's just a general clear
way of speaking your American English. First of all, we look at the
oral posture of general American. In general American, the lips, the
jaw, the tongue are all pretty relaxed and the tongue is in the middle
of the mouth dropped down behind the lower teeth. 'u', 'u' (short u
sound). You can test that you're in the correct general American oral
posture if you sigh through that posture. 'Uh'. 'Uh'. And you get the
sound 'u' (short u sound).

It's a schwa. It's right in the middle of
your mouth as in love, glove, above. I like to give my students the
'duh' test. If they are not going back to that neutral posture after
speaking something, I have them go, 'duh', 'duh'. That is your American
oral posture. One thing that trips up some of my accent production
students is the difference between 'u' (short u sound) and 'oo' (sound
as in good). 'u' which is your general American oral posture sound as in
I love you is different from 'oo', as in good. I had a good time. I
love you. I had a good time. Love. Good. 'u', 'oo'. It's very subtle
for some people, but it's a pretty important distinction in American
English. The second distinction in American English is between 'e'
(short e sound) and 'a' (short a sound). I went to Eddie's for some
appetizers and a glass of wine. Went. Eddie's. Appetizers. Glass.
'e', 'e' (short e sound), 'a', 'a' (short a sound). It would be a
completely different accent if you were to say, 'I went to Eddie's for
some appetizers and a glass of wine', and that will show up in some of
the other accents, but 'e' and 'a' is a very important distinction in
American English.

Then, there's the thing that trips so many people up
- it's that 'th' sound, 'th' as in thin, thick, this and that. You
want to bring your tongue in between your teeth to make that sound.
Watch my mouth. Thin. Thick. This. That. Practice and drill that
one. The next sound you want to start to explore is that American 'r'
sound. It trips up so many people that I think we want to have its own
video on the American 'r' sound.

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