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What is Standard American English Pronunciation?

Languages are very regional by nature. When a language is associated with a people, it may be spoken by only a few thousand. In the past, when people associated themselves with large family groups or tribes, languages could be very diverse.

Today, languages are taking a new turn: countries are adopting a standard language. The standard is more than just a language; it's a particular dialect or accent. In other words, the essential sounds and rhythms of one dialect of a primary language are chosen for use in national situations.

In American English, for instance, there are several strong dialects that also include many variations within them. The most well-known are the southern accent, the New York accent, the Boston accent and the Chicago accent. The standard American English accent originates from the midwest and is, basically, the one that is most neutral--both politically and sound-wise.

The standard language arises due to mass media. When people choose a career that is national in nature, such as being a newscaster on TV or being a teacher or trainer for a national company, they need to speak with a voice that can be easily understood by anyone.

In many ways, this is good news for people from other countries. Rather than learning pronunciation according to the teacher you happened to have (a person from your own country, a Texan, a New Yorker, a Brit, an Australian--all would teach different forms of English), there are now standard sounds you can learn that allow you to be understood no matter where you go.

The information on this site represents a combination of pronunciation techniques and phonics methods (those used to teach American kids). If you want to hear examples of standard American English, just watch the news! The American news reporters speak with the standard dialect (though some have a small "twang" from their native regions).

To speak with excellent pronunciation, you want to develop clarity and consistency in your sounds and rhythms. Perfect the sounds that are not easy for you. Get clear about which sound is which--then practice speaking these sounds in the same way every time. Go over the rhythmic patterns and practice these. Rhythm is looser and changes situationally, but patterns can be learned and eventually these patterns become natural rhythm.

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