The Benefits of Learning the General American Accent for ALL Speakers
Ever wonder why the General American accent is the most requested by individuals aiming to advance in their careers, improve social interactions, and derive more enjoyment from speaking?
As an experienced Speech Pathologist with expertise in accents and dialects, I’ve worked with people from around the globe, helping them achieve their communication goals. In this lesson, we’re going to explore some of the benefits of learning the General American Accent.
Here at The Accent Channel, we teach many different accents and dialects, but the General American is the one that’s most requested by our students AND it’s the accent that I recommend for most ESL learners and speakers who are learning English as a second or third or fourth or more! language.
BUT, before we go any further, we need to get one thing straight.
The general American accent is just one accent of the many wonderful accents in this world. It’s NOT better than any other accent.
All accents are rule based systems and each accent has its own set of rules, but because the General American Accent is invented (it’s made up, no one grows up speaking it!) the rules of this particular linguistic system are a bit clearer than other accents and dialects that are constantly changing. More on this in a moment.
And there are a few other benefits of learning to speak with the General American accent. And I'm talking about benefits over other dialects of English, not just accents from other languages. There are some features of the general American accent that will improve the sound of your voice, your vocal tone, your rate of speech, and the way you sound overall.
So, let’s delve into…
The Benefits of Learning the General American Accent:
1. It’s Familiar and Widely Understood:
The General American accent is prevalent in the entertainment and communication industries, making it more commonly heard by a broader audience. Its widespread exposure ensures listeners are accustomed to its sound.
The General American accent is easily recognized by speakers from various language backgrounds, leading to fewer communication breakdowns and less confusion during interactions.
Because this accent is so easily understood and easily recognizable by the majority of listeners, it gives our speech some common ground with many more people than when we speak with other accents or dialects. Again, this doesn't make it better, but at times, it can make speaking easier.
2. Rule-Governed and Consistent:
The General American Accent is a rule-governed accent, providing a solid foundation for pronunciation. Compared to accents and dialects that are continuously evolving due to daily use and lack of regulation, the General American Accent offers more consistent and dependable rules.
As an ESL speaker, consistent pronunciation rules are a good thing! When you feel confident that you are saying everything the right way, you can relax, and enjoy your conversations.
3. Regulating Speech Rate:
Pronouncing certain sounds as dictated in the General American Accent can help control rate of speech. For example:
Many American dialects, as well as many non-American accents will substitute a /D/ sound for a /TH/ sound. We do this because it is faster and easier (your tongue doesn’t need to do as much work to say the /D/ sound) so this allows us to speak more quickly.
The /-ing/ ending is another example. Fully pronouncing word endings add clarity to our speech, but sometimes, it’s just easier and faster to skip them.
Since /TH/ and the /-ing/ ending are really common in spoken English, we have a lot of chances to pronounce or not pronounce these sounds fully. If we don’t pronounce them fully, we can speak more quickly, sometimes so quickly that we are not easily understood.
The General American accent emphasizes full pronunciation which keeps our speech at the perfect rate, striking a balance between efficient communication and clarity.
4. Enhancing Voice Quality:
Learning to pronounce voiced consonants, particularly at the ends of words, adds resonance and power to your voice. It contributes to a pleasant and powerful vocal quality that’s deal for effective communication.
While all accents and dialects are unique and should be celebrated, acquiring proficiency in the General American accent does offer some advantages.
It promotes effective communication, eliminates nasality, regulates speech rate, and enhances the overall sound of your voice. By speaking with the General American accent, you'll find it easier to communicate with others and enjoy more successful speech interactions in your personal and professional life.