Be a ‘Couch Potato’
(Couch Potato n. One who spends an inordinate amount of time on the couch watching television)
Does this sound like unusual advice, given America’s obsession with exercise and health? Well, it is good advice for someone wanting to improve his/her American English pronunciation! Watching television is one of the best ways to hear how American English is spoken and the many variations there are across the country. Listening carefully and imitating what you hear can help you improve your accent!
Tips for watching television:
1. Situation comedies (sit-coms) are good choices.
Sit-coms are simplistic, often dumb, and not usually for the intellectual! However, they are fabulous shows to hear common American English pronunciation and the idioms that are used in today’s English. Also, they are usually ½ hour in length and have simpler story-lines than dramas, making your ‘work’ easier! Some sit-coms on TV, cable, and internet sites today include:
Friends, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, Modern Family, Louie, How I Met Your Mother, The Office, Family Guy, Arrested Development, My Name is Earl, Two and One-Half Men (you can watch Charlie Sheen before he was fired from the show for bad behavior), Scrubs, South Park, and Will and Grace.
2. As you watch, keep a pen and paper handy and write down:
-words that you do not know
-idioms you are not familiar with
-words that are pronounced differently than you thought they were
-questions that you may have re: word usage or pronunciation
3. As you watch, repeat words and phrases that you hear, imitating the actors’ speech.
The most important skill you have for improving your American accent is your ear! If you can HEAR the difference in how others pronounce a given word, you are on your way to being able to say it. So, listen to the melody of the phrases and words that you hear on the show and repeat them as exactly as you can. Speak loudly and confidently – this time is for you.
HAPPY TV WATCHING!