English Accents, Getting Feedback, and Similar Vowel Sounds (AJ #1)

Ask Jack Episode 1

(Note: If you want to reach a high level of English, click here.)

Welcome to the first episode of Ask Jack. This is where I answer YOUR questions about learning English and the English language.

As I mention in the video, to make this work I need YOUR questions. So click here to ask me a question.

In today’s episode, I discuss the best English accents to learn, how to know when you’re making mistakes when speaking, and how to learn the different vowel sounds in English.

Below the video, there is a transcript from this episode, and a summary of the answers.

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Hello, everybody, and welcome to this new video series, from me, Jack from To Fluency. Now, this new video series is called Ask Jack and this is where I’m going to answer your questions about learning English and the English language.

Now, as you can probably tell I am outside filming this and I’m going to try and film this in different types of locations. But to make this series work; to make it really successful and to help you, I’m going to need your questions. So, click the link on your screen or below this video and it’ll take you to a form where you can ask me questions. And you can ask me questions about anything to do with learning English and also I want questions about the English
language too.

So, if there’s a tense or, you know, some type of grammar or vocabulary that you don’t understand, please get in touch with me and ask me the question. So, let’s get straight into question one from today. Anga from Indonesia asks: What’s the best accent to learn?

This is a great question Anga. Now, from my accent you can probably tell that I’m from the UK but I currently live in the US, so I’m very used to the different types of accents and I’ve also been traveling a lot too. So, when I listen to an accent, I can easily understand what people are saying, erm, not for every accent in English but for the most part.

Now, the accent that you want to learn is the one that’s going to benefit you the most. There’s also, you know, an argument saying that it’s good to learn different types of accidents. Now, it’s worth pointing out also that the accent isn’t going to be the only thing, because North American English and British English are very different: it’s the accent, it’s the pronunciation, the vocabulary, the grammar, the phrases, you know, the slang that’s used as well. So, when you actually learn a specific type of English then you going to be learning

So, when you actually learn a specific type of English then you’re going to be learning all those things. But, it’s important to think about your situation and think which accent am I going to need to understand the most. This could be dictated by your job or by your future aspirations. On the whole, there’s no bad accent to learn

On the whole, there’s no bad accent to learn. Some are more difficult than others but most people want a standard British or American or Australian accent also English from other countries too. So, think about your situation and which accent is going to be best for you.

Asela from Sri Lanka asks: How do I know if I make mistakes when speaking? Thanks for your question Asela.

So, to know if what you’re saying is right or wrong it’s all about getting feedback. So, I really recommend working with someone who is going to point out your mistakes so that you can actually learn from them.

Because if you keep saying the same things over and over again, and you’re saying the wrong things over and over again, then you’re going to internalize this, and it’s going to be very natural for you just to say wrong English.

Now, this is on obvious because when I’ve talked students from Spain, for example, then they’re saying things that people from Spain say in an incorrect way. For example, a lot people say “people is stupid” instead of, “people are stupid” because they haven’t been corrected from an early age and that’s what a direct translation from Spanish into English is.

So, it’s really important that someone does correct your mistakes when you speak and when you write and obviously, this is hard to get all the time, but having someone who’s going to really point out those major mistakes is going to help, and then from there, you can go and make corrections and work on those mistakes so that you can improve your English in that sense.

Marcelo from Bazil asks: Are there any tips on how to pronounce words that sound similar? Thanks for the question Marcelo. Now, this is a really important part of English and it’s learning the different vowel sounds. Now, I can’t remember from the top of my head something over 20. So, they’re over 20 different vowel sounds in English. Now, different languages only have sometimes, you know, five vowel sounds which means that when you’re learning English it’s important to learn these different types and vowel sounds.

So, when someone – again justing using an example from Spain – uses certain kinds of words and it sounds like different words because they don’t have the muscle memory in their mouth or know how to make the correct sounds. So, a big part of my teaching is that I recommend working on the different vowel sounds, and there are drills that you can do as well so that you can practice between the two like two confusing sounds.

So, look up – and there’s a link below in the show notes that’s gonna give you a great resources where you can learn exactly what to do with your mouth so that you can produce the right type of sound and this an important part of learning English it’s not just about the vowel sounds, about the consonants and everything else.

But specifically, a lot of learners struggle with these different vowel sounds because they don’t have them in their native language. Now it’s time for me to ask you a question. And the question for this video is this: “What accent do you want to learn?” So, what accent do you want to learn?

Leave your answers below this video click the link to ask me a question, and thanks watching, see you next time!

Q1: What’s the best accent to learn?

The accent that you learn will depend on your circumstances. For example, if you’re likely to move to the U.S, then it’s probably wise to try and get an American accent.

However, you might want to try different accents too, especially if you’re going to be listening to different types of English. And remember, there are other things to consider when learning a specific type of English, including, slang, vocabulary, and grammar.

There are no bad accents to learn, and the one you choose depends on you and your situation.

Q2: How do I know if I make mistakes when speaking?

It’s important to get feedback on your speaking to know if you’re making mistakes. You don’t want to internalize incorrect English as it’s difficult to overcome this in the long-run.

Getting feedback might not always be possible, but it will help you improve your English.

Q3: Are there any tips on how to pronounce words that sound similar?

As I mentioned in the video, it’s important to learn the different vowel sounds in English. Because many languages don’t have these sounds, it’s important to learn them, otherwise you might say something that sounds like a different word (sheep/ship).

Therefore, spend time on the making sure you say the sounds correctly. Here is a great site to help you with that. Once you can say the different sounds, go through drills to build up the muscle memory.

What to Do Now:

1. Answer the question below: What accent do you want to learn/have?
 If you haven’t done so already, download your FREE Guide, and sign up to receive English learning advice from me. Get reading!
3. Click here to ask me a question about learning English.

Thanks for watching/reading!

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  • nur

    I want to learn British accent because I usually understand American conversations. sometimes I need some time to understand British conversations.So I believe if I learn an accent which I have some problem to understand,it will be the best way to overcome this problem.Am I wrong?

    • There was a study showing that if you improve your pronunciation, your comprehension will improve too. I will make a video about this in the future. Thanks for your comment.

      • Marcelo Lisa

        It is what I have always believed . I try to effort improving my pronunciation because I know that it will help me listening to the language.

  • Augusto Fontenele

    British accent, I love this lecturer’s way of pronouncing the words (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N37x4GgDVBM). But I tend to use things from different accents, like the glottal T from the cockney accent and the rhythm of the standard one. I totally agree that one has to think about the benefits of a specific accent in their future, but since I am not in a country where English is the main language, any accent is fine. Thank you for the video!

    • And thank you for your great comment! I really appreciate you sharing this with us.

  • George

    I found in the dictionary that “ice” should be read /ais/ and “eye”, /ai/. Though both words start with /ai/, they sound very different to me. Am I right? Thank you, Jack.

    • I LOVE this question. I will answer it in an episode of Ask Jack soon!

      • George

        Thanks a lot, Jack.

  • Sahar Shamout

    Thanks a lot. I liked the lesson so much. I like British accent.

    • Thanks! I appreciate you sharing that.

  • Aida KG

    thank you , I am learning british English accent the one spoken in bbc channnel , but I want to learn American Accent as well .

  • Dapot Sianipar

    I’m Indonesian and I prefer US to British. Btw thanks for the video.