Disclaimer: The sole purpose of this video is to be able to empower and educate Filipinos who are looking for careers in the call center(especially those serving American clients) and education or online teaching jobs for non-English speaking students. This is by no means a way of Americanizing our fellows in the Philippines. But rather, it is my idea of helping out our Kababayans to step up their American pronunciation skills so that eventually they can land on their dream jobs.
To give you a bit of information about myself, I was born and raised in The Philippines where American English is not widely spokenl. Yes, Most Filipinos are well versed in the English language. Thanks for having it as our 2nd official language! Filipinos do have a natural accent which is quite easy to understand in a conversation. And that’s just one of the reasons why a lot of BPO outsourced jobs are placed in the Philippines. In my case, my mother language is Ilongo, followed by Bisaya, and Filipino. But because I don’t get to practice them anymore, I’m not perfectly good at it as I used to be. My second languages are English and Dutch. English, because, it is our 2nd language back in the Philippines. And, Dutch, because, I now live in Belgium and that means I need to learn their language.
If you want to know how I got to learn to speak American English without having to live and study in the United States, keep reading this article!
Today's topic, I’m going to share some of the most powerful tips on how to speak and sound like Americans as a Filipino, living in the Philippines with Filipino or Ilongo or Bisaya or other dialects as your mother language. If you want to sound like Ariana Grande or your favorite Hollywood actor, stay tuned! So, Let me give you an example. I was born and raised in the beautiful islands of the Philippines to a family that speaks Ilongo and Bisaya. I spent my entire education in public schools and state university which offer a very standard teaching in my own personal opinion. When I left university, I immediately started working in the BPO which during that time was the onset of the Philippines in becoming the leader in the BPO industry of the world. So I was like one of the first batches during that time. So how it became possible for me to sound like an American? If you watch my previous video entitled, How to get HIRED FAST in the CALL CENTER?, there I mentioned how grateful I was to receive a very lucrative training from BPO companies I worked with. In total, I worked for about 6 years in the BPO and less than a year as an English teacher for non-native speakers. My English is far from perfection and it doesn't have to. The point is that, it is possible for 2nd English language speakers, like you and me, to acquire a standard American accent for a very short period of time. If you follow these 4 steps that I am about to tell you, in a matter of 2 weeks, you will be able to see a huge difference and improvement in how you speak American English.
What I am about to teach you is not the New York accent or the Southern accent, but the standard American accent. The standard American accent is the most general accent which is that of the Hollywood TV shows or movies, and anchors or reporters on television. The beauty of the standard American accent is that it is so easy to learn. Anyone who wishes to learn it as a second language can simply practice a few best practices that will guarantee you to speak American a lot quicker and better.
Without further ado, here are my Top 3 list on how to learn to speak like American very fast for Filipinos:
- The definite article “the”
When do we use “The”?
We use the definite article in front of a noun when we believe the listener/reader knows exactly what we are referring to:
Let me give you some examples:
- The sun shines very brightly today. (There is only one sun. That is why we say, the sun.)
- The President of the United States knows about business. (The same thing goes with the President. It is very specific.)
The first trick to sound more like Americans is to learn to pronounce “Thuh” and “Thee”.
When do we pronounce “Thuh” and “Thee”?
- Thee is used before the vowel sounds. There are 5 vowels which are a, e, i, o, u. But there are so many American vowel sounds which I will not be discussing in this video.
Let me give some examples:
- the apple, the egg, the Indian, the orange, the unicorn
- If we wish to place emphasis on a particular word, we can use “emphatic the” [thee], whether or not the word begins with a consonant or vowel sound.
You: I spoke with the CEO of the company yesterday
Me: What! The CEO of the ABC company?
Examples: Thee CEO, Thee President, Thee Origin,
2. The strong “r” sound!
Americans have strong “R” sounds. For example, car, far, more, park. If you don’t emphasize your “r” the American way, you will sound like this, caa, faa, paak, which is more like British. So if you would like to sound more like American, you need to hit those r’s really good like your rolling your tongue. Just make sure, you don’t overdo your r like, carrr, so it doesn’t sound weird. Same with those words with-er like mother, father, better, keeper, and shopper.
3. When /t/ doesn't sound like /t/
The “t” has four common pronunciations. These are:
- normal /t/ – In these examples, “T” is pronounced normally like take, time, together, tyranny, triumph
- similar to a “d” sound /t̬/ – the “T” sounds like a quick “D” sound. It occurs when a /t/ is between a vowel sound. For example, water, daughter, computer.
- Glottal stop /ʔ/ – The /t/ is pronounced as a glottal stop /ʔ/. For example: kitten, partner, fitness
- Omitted /t/: /t/ – This sound is used when it follows n and precedes a vowel sound. For example: center, advantage, international, internet
So let’s do a quick review, that will fasttrack your American accent learning:
- The definite article “the”
- The apple, the orange, the igloo
- The cooler, the station, the market
- The strong “r” sound!
- park, mark, car, father, mother, shopper, timer
- When /t/ doesn't sound like /t/
- water, daughter, computer, kitten, partner, fitness, cotton
- center, advantage, international, internet
Personally, from all the languages I tried learning, I find the standard American accent the easiest to learn. The reason I said that is because I compare American English to a silk thread. When you look at a thread, it is a smooth, fine, almost unbreakable, and never-ending piece of material. When you start practicing and getting used to American English, you will notice how relaxing the language is. American English is like a silk thread, just flowing through. And your speaking muscles are so relaxed, you don’t feel the need to put so much effort while talking.
The best tip, I can give you as a Filipino learning to speak the American accent is to follow the mirroring and imitation exercise. How are they done? With mirroring exercise, all you just have to do is to pick up an American book or magazine or an online article. You will need to be in front of the mirror when doing this task. When you are ready, start reading a page out loud and pay attention to your mouth, face, and body language as you speak. Your voice should be audible enough, so that you can hear yourself.
The other exercise that I enjoy doing the most is the imitation exercise. To be able to do this exercise, you will need a partner or a person of reference. You will have to copy or imitate every word and sentence that the person is saying, including the accent. The most entertaining way to do this while learning is by watching US TV shows/series or movies. Just turn on the subtitle feature of your television or computer, and start copying every actor's accent as best as you can.
There you go! I hope you learn something new in this article that will usher you to your dream job, whether it is in the BPO or call center industry, ESL teaching industry, or you just want to learn the American accent.