So you have been learning English for several years and yet when you speak to an American and you hear the phrases “drive me nuts,” “heck”, “cool”, or “you look beat” you are left wondering what they mean. In general, American English is the same English spoken in many countries around the world. However, there are colloquialisms, spelling, idioms, and accents that make American English distinct from any other spoken English.
If you already know how to speak and read in English, you shouldn’t have trouble understanding American English. American English Skills Development Center, Inc. is an English school in the Philippines that specializes in honing English learners to speak like an American.
Here are five tips for learning to speak English like an American:
Know some American English phrases
Learn as you go and understand when to use. Here are some phrases:
- “Awesome” and “cool” are used to describe something that the speaker agrees with or finds positive, such as “You’re coming to the movies? Awesome.”
- “What’s up?” is used to ask someone what they are doing or how they are doing. In general, it used as a casual greeting. Take note that this is not used during formal occasions.
- “Hang out” or “hang” means spending time with someone, such as: “Hey do you want to hang out?” or “Let’s hang this weekend!”
Familiarize yourself and eventually master the American accent with a book and audio CDs
The combination book and audio instructional program help diminish the accents of speakers who are learning English by guiding them how to speak standard American English. There are specific exercises that concentrate on vowel sounds, problematic consonants such as V, W, R, TH, B, P, F, as well as how to use correct syllable stress for a smoother speech flow.
Gradually improve your intonation
This is the hardest to learn. Observe how people talk, the way their pitch changes and the rise and flow of each sentence.
Watch American movies
- Listen closely to how people talk and use words and phrases. If there is a word or phrase that you are not familiar with, look it up and write it down. Learn the context in which it is used.
- Mimic dialogue from American movies. Read it out loud, record it and play it back. This helps in developing more of an American accent.
Make American friends
Talk to them and observe how they speak, carefully listen to the content of their speech, and learn how they use idioms and colloquialisms.