American /s/ vs. British /z/

By Ilana Shydlo / April 1, 2017

In this video blog post, we discuss a small, subtle difference between how some words with “s” are pronounced between American and British English. This tip may be most useful if you are trying to learn an American accent, but are coming from a starting point of being more familiar with British E...

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How to Raise a Bilingual Child

By Ilana Shydlo / March 1, 2017

As a Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist, people ask me all the time: “How do you raise kids to be bilingual?” The short answer is that you expose them to two languages. The rest of this blog post is just an elaboration on that basic idea. Here are some useful definitions that are used in this ...

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Confusing stress in similar words

By Ilana Shydlo / July 1, 2016

A stressed syllable is part of a word which is pronounced louder and longer than the other parts of the word. The importance of word stress has been discussed in the previous 2 blog posts – Introduction to Word Stress and Unstressed Syllables. As mentioned in those posts, placing stress on ...

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Putting the “Uh” in “Unstressed Syllable”

By Ilana Shydlo / March 1, 2016

Anyone who is familiar with the English language will not be surprised to hear that English words are not always pronounced exactly the way that they are spelled. There are many reasons why a spelling may differ from its pronunciation – perhaps the word was borrowed from a foreign language ...

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A Stress-Free Introduction to Word Stress

By Ilana Shydlo / February 1, 2016

One important aspect of pronunciation which is often overlooked is stress. Stress is the emphasis given to a part of a word, or to a whole word within a sentence. In this post, we’ll discuss stress within individual words, specifically stress patterns of 2 syllable nouns and verbs. A word can be ...

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Words with more than one correct pronunciation

By Ilana Shydlo / January 1, 2016

In my work as an accent instructor, people often ask me which of two pronunciations of a certain word is correct. This confusion is very understandable. You may have encountered more than one pronunciation of a certain word – perhaps you looked it up in the dictionary and two alternate pron...

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Common Words Pronounced Differently in British versus American English

By Ilana Shydlo / November 1, 2015

This post is the fourth in a series on the subject of differences between American and British English. For more information on this topic, please see the first three parts of the series: British Versus American “A” News About American “oo” and British “you” That You Never Knew The “oo” Sound: Am...

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Sound System of American English

By Ilana Shydlo / October 1, 2015

This is the third blog post in a three-part series on the relationships between the pronunciation of English words and their spellings. Follow the links for part one of the series on Silent Letters and part two on Homophones. As mentioned in the previous blog posts, it frequently happens that the...

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Homophones: Words that Sound the Same, but are Spelled Differently

By Ilana Shydlo / September 1, 2015

This is the second blog post in a three-part series on the relationships between the pronunciation of English words and their spellings. Follow the links for part one of the series on Silent Letters and part three on the Sound System of American English. As mentioned in the previous blog post, it...

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Silent letters

By Ilana Shydlo / August 1, 2015

This is the first blog post in a three-part series on the relationships between the pronunciation of English words and their spellings. Follow the links for part two of the series on Homophones and part three on the Sound System of American English. The English language is notable for having a la...

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Why non-native speakers seem to “lose their accent” when singing English songs

By Ilana Shydlo / July 15, 2015

As you may have noticed, people often sound like they have less of an accent (or sometimes none at all) when they sing in a foreign language. This holds true even if they have a noticeable accent when they speak in that languages, or even if they don’t know the foreign language at all. Why ...

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How do you say “the”? Thuh vs. Thee

By Ilana Shydlo / July 1, 2015

In this video blog post, we discuss how to say the word “the”. When do you pronounce it “thuh” and when do you pronounce it “thee”? Here is how to pronounce “the” in American English: pronounce it “thuh” when the next word begins with a consonant sound, and pronounce it “thee” when the next word ...

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The “oo” sound: American versus British pronunciation

By Ilana Shydlo / June 1, 2015

This is the third blog post in a series on differences between British and American English. Also, see parts 1, 2, and 4 of this series: 1. British versus American “a” 2. News About American “oo” and British “you” That You Never Knew 4. Words Pronounced Differently in British vs. American English...

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News about American “oo” and British “yoo” that you never knew

By Ilana Shydlo / May 1, 2015

This is the second blog post in a multi-part series on the subject of differences between British and American English. For more information on this topic, also see parts 1, 3, and 4 of the series: 1. British versus American “a” 3. The “oo” sound: American versus British pronunciation 4. Words Pr...

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British versus American “a”

By Ilana Shydlo / April 1, 2015

This is the first blog post in a multi-part series on the subject of differences between British and American English. For more information on this topic, also see parts 2-4 of the series: 2. News About American “oo” and British “you” That You Never Knew 3. The “oo” sound: American versus British...

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Why don’t accents go away by themselves?

By Ilana Shydlo / March 1, 2015

Many of us know individuals who came to the United States as teenagers or adults. Maybe they’ve even lived in the United States for decades, and their English language has become more and more fluent and native-like- and yet still they retain their original accent, as they had when they first arr...

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Dropped Syllables

By Ilana Shydlo / February 1, 2015

A “dropped” syllable is a syllable in the middle of a word that is not pronounced. The unpronounced syllable can even be a single vowel sound in the middle of a word, for example pronouncing “every” as “EV-ree”. The technical term for this phenomenon is “syncope”. When are syllables n...

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An Exceedingly Exciting, Exact Guide to Pronouncing “Ex”

By Ilana Shydlo / January 1, 2015

The English language has many subtleties that can lead to confusion. This includes letter combinations that may be pronounced differently in different contexts. For example, many words in English begin with two simple letters: “ex”. This is just one letter combination, but it has two very differe...

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The 5 types of “t” sounds in American English

By Ilana Shydlo / December 1, 2014

Working as an accent coach, people constantly ask me about the “t” sound in English. The question often goes something like this: “Am I crazy, or is the ‘t’ sound in button different from the ‘t’ sound in butter? What’s going on here?” Maybe this is something you’ve wondered about too. Let me set...

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Fun and Easy Tip for Learning an American Accent At Home

By Ilana Shydlo / November 1, 2014

As an accent reduction instructor, people often ask me about tips for improving their American accent on their own. One fun method can be through TV shows. This can help you improve accent, vocabulary, and overall style of communication. What aspects of communication can watching TV help you impr...

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