Category Archives: Accent reduction

  • Joyous Jan(y)u(w)ary

    The word “January” is spoken as “Jan(y)u(w)ary”. In American English, we link two vowel sounds together with a “w” or “y” sound. The “w” and “y” sounds are in a class of sounds known as “glides”. Some vowel sounds in American English are “glided” vowels. That is, they have a slight “w” or “y” sound […]

  • Happy New Year!

    The word “happy” has a tense “ee” sound at the end. This common word ending, spelled -y, is typically pronounced “ee”. The tense “ee” sound is a long sound, made with your tongue high and your lips smiling. The sides of the tongue are pressed against the roof of the mouth.

  • Happy Holidays!

    The “h” sound (at the beginning of “Happy” and “Holidays”) is made by opening your mouth and exhaling a huff of air from the lungs. To make this sound, pretend you are trying to fog up your glasses to clean them. If you’re a Russian speaker, make this sound a bit softer. The American “h” […]

  • Joy to the World

    The title of this traditional Christmas carol features a word that is challenging for a lot of non-native speakers. To help with clearly pronouncing both the “r” and “l” sounds in the word “world”, think of there being two syllables, as if it were spelled “werrold”. It’s a little trick that will help it come […]

  • It’s a Wonderful Life

    It’s the season that the popular 1946 American film of this title is being watched. This title uses a commonly used feature of American English — contractions, such as “it’s” (for “it is”). Speaking with contractions is a quick change you can make that will help you sound more like a native speaker.