This is the age old question, now isn’t it? How can I speak English in an American accent? Although America is just a couple centuries old, and is still considered one of the newest countries of the world, being able to speak English in an American accent has become extremely coveted. In fact, American English is now the world’s global language. So, for example, if someone who is from Germany needs to do business with someone who is from China, the two parties will most likely communicate in English, and furthermore, that English will also most likely be American English. Now, their American accents might not be perfect, and they may still need some American accent training, but overall, their business would be done in American English. Interesting, isn’t it? There are many countries that speak English, so why is the American accent so coveted, and how can you train your accent, when speaking English, to sound like a native English speaker from America?
How did the American accent develop?
As many of you are well aware of, America has always been a melting pot of sorts. This nation was founded upon immigrants, and so of course, the many languages that were spoken from those immigrants influenced the American accent today. The general American accent you hear today did not just develop overnight. It took many years and many different accents and blending of languages for it to form. It is said that American English originated during the industrial revolution. So many new idioms and phrases, unique to America, were developed during that time. So, it is safe to say that no one really knows exactly when or exactly how the American accent was created. It was just so majorly influenced by different cultures and their languages, due to immigration, that somehow, someway, the American accent came about.
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Why are there so many American accents?
Now that we have somewhat of a better understanding of how the American accent was developed, let me ask you this: did you know that there are multiple versions of an American accent? Yep, you heard that right. America is a large country, and there are fifty different states. That being said, it’s plausible to understand that people from one area of the country may speak differently from people from the opposite side of the country. So, don’t be alarmed if you ever find yourself road tripping across America, and hear a different accent in each state. There’s no standard American accent, it simply depends on which region of America you are in. Also, now that America is a couple hundred years old, accents have been taught and passed down from generation to generation too. So, for example, both of my parents are from the south and speak in southern accents. When I was born, I grew up speaking in a southern accent, although I am not from a place where a southern accent is typically spoken. It was just passed down to be from my parents. Now, luckily, I was able to change my accent by studying and becoming more educated, but just be aware that you may connect with someone who is from New York, but has a Californian accent due to their parents being from California, or something of that nature.
So, with all of that being said, the top five distinctive accents that you can find in America are as follows:
- Southern accent
- New Yorker accent
- Bostonian accent
- Californian accent
- Hawaiian accent
What does a general American accent sound like?
The term “general American accent” is used as a kind of umbrella accent when referring to the accent most Americans speak in. People with higher educations are actually more likely to speak in this “general American accent.” However, research also indicates that, for the most part, people from the middle of North America’s states, also tend to just naturally have this “general American accent”. So, with that being said, how can you learn the American accent? Well, you learn this accent just like you learn anything, through practicing, studying, and hard work! It’s good to note that the general American accent is rhotic, which means that you pronounce the ‘R’ sound only when it’s written. It’s confusing, but bare with me here. Also, general American accents also have amore pronounced ‘L’ sound, which is known as a dark L. This sound is more like an “ul” sound. So, keep this in mind when you’re mastering the American accent.
Reasons to master an American accent
Now that we’ve gone over the origin, and have an idea of what an American accent actually is, why would it be important for you to speak in an American accent? Like, why should you put in the effort to not only learn a new language, master than new language, become fully bilingual, and then go on to also master a specific accent? For what reason? What will the benefits be, or will there be any at all? Well, let’s look into this together.
America is a massive country, but it’s safe to say that the majority of Americans can understand this general, north American accent. It’s a widespread accent. If you know how to speak with an American accent, you’re pretty much safe when it comes to communicating with anyone in America, or perhaps, even globally.
You can be understood all over the world
Piggy-backing off of what I previously mentioned, American English is known as the global language. The language of the world! It is spoken in literally every part of the world, and if two people who are not native English speakers need to communicate, odds are, they will communicate using American English. So, as you can imagine, learning American English can be extremely beneficial for you, but how to get an American accent? That is a question that I can hopefully help with, so stay tuned!
It’s simple to recreate
Due to it’s extreme popularity in movies, music, and television, the American accent has become somewhat of a normality for people. Subconsciously, when we think of English, you most likely think of an American accent. Have you ever even pretended to speak English in an American accent? Or, have you googled “how to do an American accent?” Since we’ve heard it our whole lives, it’s actually quite simple to recreate, especially in comparison to British and Australian accents.
How to get the American Accent?
How to have an American accent? Well, If you’ve made it this far, you’re on the right track! Learning an American accent is actually quite simple, and of course, I have some tips and tricks that can help you.
- Enunciate better: Americans like to enunciate everything, so, when you’re trying to learn an American English accent, be sure to enunciate!
- Speak slower: I know this is shocking because personally, I think Americans speak rather fast. However, in general, English is a slower speaking language with just an average of 6.19 syllables per second.
- Pause often: Americans often speak in phrases and then pause after. This is tricky, and will require a lot of practice. Good luck!
- Emphasize the most important word: For example, if I say “ The dog just bit me.” I would pause after the word dog, and emphasize “just” because it’s an action that happened recently, and that’s what you’re emphasizing here.
- Speak louder: Yes, it may be stereotypical to say, but it’s true. Americans do tend to speak louder, don”t scream, but just practice speaking up.
- Use idioms/ slang: Americans sure do love their slang, idioms, and sarcasm. So, incorporating these into your everyday language will definitely have you sounding more and more like an American.
- Include humor: For some reason, Americans tend to resort to humor quite frequently. I would safely say that we do so more often than people from other English speaking countries. So, to sound more American, try adding some humor into your conversations.
- Practice: practice your American accent by watching shows, or even YouTube, that have people speaking in an American accent.
Don’t forget about other accents
Now that you know pretty much all there is to know about the American accent, don’t forget that it’s not the only accent you will hear. As mentioned before, English is spoken in multiple countries worldwide. Accents aren’t binary either. There is no such thing as a right or wrong accent. So, trust me, whenever you hear an Irish, Welsh, British, or Australian accent, or any other English accent for that matter, do not try to correct or force them into using an American accent. You opted in for learning an American accent because YOU wanted to. It’s the global language, yes, but in the end, English is English, and it’s not all so different.