Recently I wrote an article about Americans speaking as if they’re holding a hot potato in their mouth. I’m sure you’ve heard such or a similar description of the way American English sounds, and I have to tell you that it actually holds water!
‘To hold water’ is an English idiom meaning that a statement in question is true, and in this case I meant that the statement of American English sounding like holding something in mouth actually has a certain degree of truth to it ❗
To prove my point, I’m going to take this idiom literally and see if the American English can indeed hold water (as you may have guessed by the headline, I’m going to speak while holding water in my mouth)!
At the same time, I’m going to show you the EASIEST way of getting the feel of the American accent if you’ve found it difficult in the past.
Just WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE to see how I do it and read the rest of this article to get even more information on the whole General American Pronunciation thing! 😉
Robby, You Gotta Be Kidding Me! Sounding American Is About So Much More Than Just That!
Well, I’m not saying you can master the General American Pronunciation within a matter of a heartbeat.
I’m performing this act just to illustrate HOW TO GET THE OVERALL UNDERSTANDING of how your MOUTH has to be POSITIONED!
I also understand that I’m not in a position to teach you the subtleties of the General American Pronunciation because I’m only learning it myself, but I believe that I’ve gotten the basics right – including the mouth position – in order to sound American.
The basic characteristics of the American pronunciation is this deep, resonating sound which is created right inside of your mouth, and to achieve that, your cheeks need to be slightly ‘inflated’.
The problem is, many of my fellow foreign English speakers trying to learn the American accent find it difficult to position their mouth properly, and it might take them a lot of time till they figure it out going the trial and error way.
Exaggeration Is the Perfect Starting Point!
I personally find that it’s very easy to get the general idea of an accent if you exaggerate certain facial features characteristic to the people speaking with that particular accent.
It may sound stupid or even idiotic to you, and it will look very stereotypical to the native speaker of the accent you’re trying to mimic, but the truth is:
Its’ much easier to have a blueprint imprinted into your mind of how you have to move the jaws, lips, cheeks and tongue if you exaggerate that particular accent ❗
If you’re struggling to get your American accent going, all you have to do is pull the corners of your lips back in a mock smile, and it will force you to create American-like sounds even if you speak English with your own native accent.
And of course, I don’t advise such an approach for lengthy American English practicing sessions; it’s just to get the general feel of the accent!
Now It’s Your Turn to Practice!
Here’s a practical application of this method, and you may want to do the same when practicing your American English.
When you’re starting your spoken practice you may want to stretch your mouth and your facial muscles to get ready to speak with an American accent – to achieve that, adopt the exaggerated mouth position (just like the one I’m showing in the video above!)
Speak with your mouth wide open, lip corners drawn back, and then slowly do away with the funny face and eventually adopt a normal facial expression WHILE at the same time retaining just a little bit of that crazy face.
I personally find that if you keep the corners of your mouth a little bit drawn back, it helps you with not slipping back into your normal foreign English accent.
So, let me know what you think about it, and I would also like to hear if you find my little piece of advice of any help to you!