Learning American English: 10 Tips for Success

learning american englishAre you struggling to learn American English? Every year, hundreds of thousands of people learn how to speak English, only to find themselves overwhelmed by accents, slang, and pronunciation when they visit the United States.

English is a challenging language to learn, and the subtle differences between British and American English can make the process of becoming fluent a struggle. However, with the right attitude, you can become a fluent American English speaker.

In this guide, we’ll cover 10 simple tips to help you learn American English to a point where you’re confident and capable. If you’re just starting with English, enroll in our Learn to Speak Fluent English course to learn the basics of the English language.

Chat with your American friends

learning american englishDo you have American friends? If so, try to spend at least 30 minutes a day chatting with them about whatever is on your mind. Conversational practice helps you pick up subtle American mannerisms, accents, and slang in a natural way.

From your favorite foods to world affairs, pick a topic of conversation and discuss it with your American friends whenever you get the chance. If you’re currently outside the United States, keep in touch with your American friends using Skype.

Do you want to become conversationally fluent in American English? Enroll in How to Speak Like an American: Part 1 to learn the vowel sounds and diphthongs used in spoken American English. 

Work on your American accent

learning american englishThe United States of America is a huge country that’s home to many different tones of voice and accents. Diverse parts of the United States like New York or Los Angeles are home to many different accents, each of which is uniquely American.

No matter where you’re from, it’s possible to reduce your natural accent and acquire a sound that’s distinctly American. Our Accent Reduction Made Fast and Easy course is designed for people of any nationality interested in acquiring an American accent. 

learning american englishPractice speaking by reading aloud

Is your written English stronger than your spoken English? Use your reading skills to improve your speaking voice by reading your favorite English books aloud in an American accent.

There’s no need to start with War and Peace. Practice your accent using children’s books with simple language and short words, and gradually start reading tougher material out loud as you begin to master pronunciation and tone of voice.learning american englishLearn the differences between British and American English

You may have noticed that words are spelled differently in American and British English. If you’ve spent time in both the UK and the USA, you’ll also have noticed that certain words – like aluminum – are pronounced very differently.

If you’ve learned British English in school, transitioning to American English isn’t going to be too difficult. Our course, 8 Secrets to English Success, covers American slang and phrasing that you may not be familiar with as a non-native speaker.

learning american englishWatch American TV shows to expand your vocabulary

No matter where you’re from, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Hollywood. America’s entertainment industry is the world’s largest, and its studios produce hundreds of great films and TV shows every year.

Enhance your spoken American English by watching TV shows and movies from the United States, preferably without subtitles. Stick with modern shows and movies no older than 5-10 years to pick up phrases, pronunciation, and slang that’s relevant.

learning american englishRecord yourself speaking to spot pronunciation issues

One of the best ways to improve your spoken English is by recording yourself. You might be surprised to hear your own voice when it’s played back to you, since any pronunciation or phrasing errors immediately begin to stick out.

As painful as it can be to hear yourself making English mistakes, the self-analysis of listening to your own voice is a great way to find weak points in your pronunciation or accent and correct them before they become habits.

learning american englishOptimize your American English using language hacks

The 100 most common English words make up almost half of all books, magazines, and newspaper articles. By focusing on the essential core of English, you can reach fluency – either written or spoken – in a fraction of the normal time.

This is an example of a ‘language hack’ – a simple trick that you can use to speed up the process of learning American English. Learn more about language hacking with our course, Faster, Smarter, Cheaper Foreign Language Learning.

learning american englishKeep a notebook of new words, phrases, and slang

Whenever you hear a new word in conversation, jot it down in a notebook to look up in the dictionary when you have free time. This simple trick will help you grow your English vocabulary at a rapid pace, acquiring new words every day.

Don’t have a notebook? Use Evernote and other productivity apps to keep track of new words, phrases, and slang on your phone. With this strategy, you’ll build up a huge archive of new words and phrases to use in conversation.

learning american englishTravel or study abroad in the United States

Are you learning American English outside the United States? Put your skills to the test by traveling to the United States, either for a vacation, for your career, or for a study abroad course.

There’s no better way to learn a language than through immersion, and visiting the United States is a great way to immerse yourself in English. From the mall to college, most American cities are packed with opportunities to practice speaking English.

learning american englishRelax, be confident, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Does the thought of speaking English make you feel nervous? Anxiety can slow your language learning progress to a crawl, especially if it lowers your confidence that you avoid starting conversations with native English speakers.

Most Americans are friendly, cheerful, and happy to help you master English. With a confident, friendly approach to language learning, you’ll have no issues making new friends and finding people to practice speaking English with.

Language anxiety is something that every learner has experienced at one point. Our course, Transform Self Doubt into Confidence, will help you knock out your anxiety and discover how easy it is to interact with native English speakers.