adventures in english
Did you know that there are 6 ways to pronounce the letter T in American English? I get more questions on how to pronounce T than any other sound in American English. And it’s no wonder. The pronunciation of the letter T varies quite a bit depending upon its location in the word and other sounds around it.
The first pronunciation of T is what most people think of if I say T. It’s the T sound we use at the beginning of words, like “talk” and “today”, or when T begins a stressed syllable like: “container” or “attend”. What stands out with this sound is the aspiration, or puff of air, heard with this hard T. You can easily feel it if you put your hand in front of your mouth. Try putting your hand in front of your mouth and saying the words above.
Second, we have the held T at the end of words like “wet” or “eat”, or before a consonant sound, like “lightning” or in the phrase “wait for me”. It has the same mouth position as the standard hard T, but it does not have the puff of air. Try it now. Say “eat”. Make sure your tongue moves to the T position. The tip of your tongue touches the roof of your mouth just behind your upper front teeth. By the way, this area is called the “alveolar ridge”.
The third T variation is the flap T, sometimes spelled TT. This is the T that sounds like an English D. You will generally find it in the middle of words, since it occurs between vowel sounds, in words like city or community. Do you hear the D sound? A vowel followed by R (R controlled vowel) is also considered a vowel sound. So consider ER, OR, AR and similar sounds vowels. You’ll find the flap T before or after R controlled vowels, in words like “artist”, “daughter” and “forty”. The flap T also occurs before “LE” endings because of the syllabic L. Listen for it in words like “little” or “Seattle”.
The fourth T variation is an infrequent sound in American English, but it occurs in a few common words. It’s the glottal stop, and it occurs before vowel+n. Examples include button, mountain and sentence . It’s similar to the held T, but the sound is stopped in the throat. Think of it as a held T, but then move straight to the N sound. Do not pronounce the vowel sound between the T and N.
The fifth way to pronounce T is to not pronounce it. T’s can be silent after the letter N, like in the words “international” or “Atlanta”. Just pretend the T is not there.
And the sixth possible T pronunciation is a ch sound. A “tu” spelling in the middle of words produces a “ch” sound, like in “future”, “situation” or “congratulations”.
Take a look at my video lesson “6 ways to pronounce T in American English” to see more examples of these T variations: https://youtu.be/gx1ydqokb0Y. Each of the sounds I mentioned in this article has its own video. If you want a more detailed lesson on any T variation, take a look at the corresponding video. You can find a link to each below in the description.
Held T: https://youtu.be/E8L6ROP9KaQ
Silent T: https://youtu.be/IFUgheV0wRY
Glottal T: https://youtu.be/z9VA2_egKgg
Flap T: https://youtu.be/wWiLLfX2mHw
T = Ch: https://youtu.be/zTu5zRHhVe0
What do you have in common with Cristiano Ronaldo & LeBron James?
Like them, you were born to be great, but you need guidance and support to reach your full potential. None of the world’s most successful people could have achieved so much without the assistance of a great coach. Do you have that in your life? Coaches exist for many different things. There are sports coaches, business coaches and life coaches. But what about an English Language Coach? That’s who I am. I help people overcome English language challenges, so they can be their very best and achieve all their goals and dreams.
Are you frustrated because you’ve been trying to improve your English for a long time and don’t see results? Maybe you’re just not focusing on the correct things. Maybe you don’t know how or what needs to change. Maybe it’s time to consult an English Language Coach. With a few coaching sessions, you can make a lot more progress than trying to do it alone. The coach can pinpoint exactly what you need to work on to make the largest gain in the shortest time. The coach also knows which resources are best for your needs and can help you determine the most efficient and effective ways to practice to make the progress you have been seeking.
Is Coaching Expensive?
You may think coaching is expensive, but when you consider the amount of time and effort you save and the speed you progress with a coach, it really ends up saving you a lot of time and you’ll regret not hiring one sooner. The sooner you get to where you want to be with your English, the sooner opportunities will open up for you. And as we say, time is money.
Imagine this: you have 3 hours per week to improve your English. If you do it yourself, you probably spend the 3 hours doing things that do not necessarily help you reach your goals. With a coach, you know exactly what to work on to make progress fast. The coach helps you clarify that and gives you a plan to follow, and you spend those 3 hours productively, advancing toward your goals.
If you wanted to improve your tennis game or swim in a triathlon, you’d hire a coach, right? If you wanted to learn to play the piano or guitar, you’d hire a private teacher. The coach sees what you can’t see. The coach is an expert in their field. He/she helps people improve and reach their goals every day. You could never become a world-class athlete without a great coach to support and guide you. The super-elites of the world have all had that kind of support – a coach, teacher or a partner that puts them on track to greatness. If you want to achieve greatness, you need to invest in yourself. Your career is worth it. You are worth it. It’s time to invest in you. Don’t let your dreams pass you by.
I feel so strongly about this that I’m offering your first 30 minute session with me for only $10, so you can try it out and see how English coaching can help you, before committing to more sessions.
Be Just Like Harry Potter: Free Grammar Correction Wand Below
Usually I talk about ways to improve your English pronunciation, but today I want to address a writing issue and a quick way to solve it. Many non-native English speakers working in the U.S. have told me that they are often afraid to send emails. They know that their writing is not perfect, but as hard as they try, they are unable to see their own grammar mistakes. They send their message, only to hear negative comments from their supervisor and coworkers about their English. How frustrating and embarrassing!
In order to be functional in any language, it is important to be able to correctly use the most common words in that language. Knowing these words in English will allow you to understand and speak Standard American English well. In addition to knowing the meaning of each word and its usage in sentences, make sure you take the time to learn the correct pronunciation of each word, including word stress. And note that words often have multiple meanings. Make sure you’re familiar with the different definitions of each word.
If English is not your native language, you may be pronouncing some of our really common words incorrectly. If you want to speak English so that everyone understands what you say the first time, it’s important to pronounce these super common words correctly. In this article and the accompanying videos, I will be giving you the American English pronunciation for these words. Note that in several of them, you’ll find the British pronunciation to be different. I have chosen the following words based on my experience working with non-native English speakers over the years.
Do you hate mornings? Is it hard for you to get out of bed and get your day started? I must confess – I am not a morning person. I like to stay up late at night, sometimes watching TV or reading, sometimes working (by choice). I am not lazy. I enjoy nighttime more and feel that I get my best work done later in the day, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I do want to share with you, however, a book I came across a couple of years ago while I was living in China. No, it’s not a Chinese book. It’s a book written in English. It’s called “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Enrod (https://amzn.to/2LraOTX). What attracted me to it was the idea that I could revamp my life to be more productive in the morning. Well, I have to confess, that’s not exactly what the book is about, but it is has changed my life in other unexpected ways.
Place names can be confusing to pronounce in English. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the names of cities, states, rivers, etc. are often derived from words in other languages, like Native American languages, Spanish or French depending on who lived in these areas before they became part of the United States. So their spelling and pronunciation can seem unpredictable, even to native speakers.
Let me give you some examples. I grew up in Southern California, where lots of place names are Spanish. This is common in California and the Southwestern part of the United States, such as in Nevada, Arizona, Texas, etc. You have probably heard of the following cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. But, how do you pronounce the smaller cities you haven’t heard like “La Jolla” and “Mission Viejo”? Here’s a hint for you: in Spanish, J is pronounced like an English H and LL is pronounced like Y, so Viejo is Vee A ho, and Jolla is Ho ya. Locals all know the pronunciation and never even think about it, since they hear these words all the time, but newcomers are bewildered.
Part of being a truly proficient user of a language is having a wide ranging vocabulary. English in particular has a very large lexicon compared to many languages. There is very often more than one word or way to express the same idea in English. English also has many words that are similar, but express subtle differences. Learning to vary your word usage instead of repeating the same simple words again and again will enrich your language, making you sound more sophisticated and more educated. It will also give your English a more native feel.
Both personally and professionally, 2017 was an exciting and productive year. In fact, I'd have to say it was one of the best, or maybe even the best year of my life. It was a year full of fabulous travels, visiting family and friends, lots of fun times and the year I dedicated myself exclusively to developing my online English school. I am really happy to be able to follow my passion full time and help more and more people speak clear, understandable English. If you'd like to see more of my adventures, check out the slide show I've created.
I want to talk to you a little about one of the reasons you may be losing opportunities in the American world. Surprisingly, it may not be your accent. Sometimes, people who speak English really clearly and have only a minor accent tell me they need to improve their English. When this happens, I am reminded that there may be an issue that goes beyond the spoken word. People automatically gravitate towards others who are like them. They feel comfortable with similar people and they trust them, since they share common values.
I feel lucky because English is my first language. I have never had to struggle with pronunciation and spelling or grammar rules and exceptions. But as an English teacher, I have worked with people from all over the world who have learned or are currently learning English. I have assisted and guided many through the process of improving their spoken English. I have seen how they struggle.
One of the main causes of a foreign accent when learning another language is interference from our native language. As babies and young children, our brains learn which sounds are and are not important. The young child’s brain quickly learns to dismiss the sounds not included in our mother tongue, and at some point we are no longer able to distinguish them. We do not even notice them, and may have difficulty hearing them, even when they are pointed out to us.
It is not necessarily bad to have an accent, and for some people I would not recommend spending time trying to change your speech. If people have trouble understanding you and your oral English is interfering with your life (in work, school, your business or your personal life), then your will likely benefit from improving your speech. The opportunities available to you and your quality of life will improve as a result.
Today I entered a new reality. It's a reality filled with adoring fans, screaming for autographs and pictures and boys telling me I'm beautiful. They hang on my every word, even though they can't understand what I'm saying. My name is in lights on the marquee, and there is a lavish banquet in my honor. No, this is not a dream. Strangely, this was my world today. I was taken to a middle school in another town to do a workshop for the English teachers at the school. Although the city is big, it has a small-town feel. No one has ever seen a westerner in person, and I caused quite a stir. I was the show-and-tell object of the year.
There are many ways to get around in China. Of course, there are cars, buses and taxis, and we've often seen images of Chinese people commuting by bicycle on TV and in movies. But there's a whole other convenient way to travel. It's by scooter or electric bicycle. They're better than a car because they're very inexpensive, they can go anywhere and get you places fast, even in traffic.
Accent Coach Nicole helps non-native English speakers speak more clearly & understandably, so they can reach their full potential & achieve all their goals & dreams.