If you want to improve your American accent you will want to read these five common pronunciation problems for learners of spoken American English.
1. Learners stress the wrong syllables in words
In any English word with two or more syllables, one syllable receives more stress or emphasis than the others.
For example, in the word student the first syllable is stressed and the second syllable is reduced so the word sounds like STU-dent.
Using syllable stress correctly is one of the best and fastest ways to improve your American English pronunciation and reduce your accent!
2. Learners mispronounce the two sounds of "th"
Most learners don't realize that the letter combination "th" has two different sounds in spoken English.
One of the "th" sounds is voiced as in the words the, this and that. The other "th" sound is voiceless as in the words thanks, Thursday and thirteen.
Since the 'th' sounds are two of the most common consonant sounds in American English you must learn to pronounce them correctly if you want to improve your accent.
3. Learners mispronounce the "t" in the middle of words
When you are speaking American English the letter "t" in the middle of a word often takes on a different sound. Pronunciation teachers call this sound the flap. The flap sounds like more like a quick /d/ than a /t/.
The "t" in the words water, butter, after and later are all pronounced with the flapped sound. That means that these words sound more like wauder, budder, afder and layder.
The flap sound occurs very frequently in American English so you should learn to use this sound if you want to improve your American accent.
4. Learners mispronounce word final "ed" sounds
In spoken English the "ed" at the end of a word has three different sounds. The first sound is /ed/ as in the word decided. The second sound is /d/ as in the word saved. The third sound is /t/ as in the word stopped.
Since the past tense "ed" is such a common sound in American English you must pronounce this correctly in order to improve your American English accent.
5. Learners mispronounce word final "s" sounds
The "s" at the end of an word can have three different sounds when you speaking American English.
The first sound is /s/ as in the word stops. The second sound is /z/ as in the word saves. The third sound is /es/ as in the word buses.
The rules for pronouncing word final "s" and word final "ed" in American English follow a pattern that is based on voiced and voiceless sounds.
Susan Ryan is an American English pronunciation and accent reduction teacher in Washington, D.C. To learn more rules and patterns that will help you improve the way you speak English visit her Accent Reduction Classroom. Check out her Free Accent Reduction course for more tips like the ones you read here http://accent-reduction.confidentvoice.com/.