Learning English as a second language and mastering an American accent can be tricky. Even once the words and grammar of English are mastered, learning to pronounce the subtle differences in sounds that make up the American accent can be a problem for many people. If you haven’t grown up listening to the American accent regularly, it can be very difficult to train your ear to hear the nuances of an American English pronunciation.
One area that is tricky for many non-native speakers of English is the difference between voiced and unvoiced consonants. Voicing refers to whether a sound is made using the vocal chords, or just using air flow. To get a better idea of how voicing works, put your hand on your throat and say “sssss”. Now, keeping your hand on your throat, say “zzzzzzz”. You should have felt vibration in your throat while pronouncing the /z/, but nothing at all while pronouncing the /s/. This is because /s/ is an unvoiced consonant, with sound being produced solely by air flow, while /z/ also uses the vocal chords to produce sound.
Want to learn more? Take a look at this video from Corporate Speech Solutions President, Jayne Latz, and hear examples of how voiced and unvoiced sounds are produced.
Check in again next week, when we’ll provide more great tips on mastering the American English accent.
For information on the New York Based Speech and Accent Reduction services offered by Corporate Speech Solutions please give us a call at 212-308-7725 or contact our Speech Training Coach today. Not in NYC? No problem! We also provide Skype and video conferencing services.
© 2013, Corporate Speech Solutions of New York City and Long Island – All Rights Reserved