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    Welcome to Authentic Journeys - ഓതെന്റിക് ജെർനീയ്സ് - US-India Cross-Cultural Training

October 30, 2013

American Accents - Test Your Listening Comprehension

Test your American English comprehension by listening to these videos of various American accents!  

I urge you - don't just listen, shadow! If you hear an accent had by your client, listen, stop the video and mimic it! It will help your listening comprehension when talking with your clients, as well!   

This first video showcases the following accents

  • Classic American
  • Valley Girl (California, San Fernando Valley, actually; a sociolect)
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • North Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • New York
  • Ebonics (This term is avoided by linguists. A better description of this ethnolect is African American Vernacular English (AAVE). "Ebonics" is often used as a derisive description of AAVE and includes exaggerated speech features.)
  • California (majority accent)

(Thank you, Alan Headbloom, for offering the more detailed descriptions of the accents, above.)

Amy Walker on YouTube is really good at changing accents. She has made this video on a wide variety of American Accents, including New York, Southern, Midwest, California (West Coast), the Newscaster, the Flight Attendant, and others.

Watch her.. she's awesome how she changes her facial expressions and mannerisms to change to the different personalities of the different accents.

She says something awesome at the end...

"....this will help you to expand your identity, who you are to include these other things. With this, it doesn't mean you aren't who you were before... you're just adding to that!" Kudos to that!!

For me, this collage of accents is not complete without the Boston accent. I lived in Boston for awhile and used to get lost quite a bit when I first moved there because I just couldn't understand their accent!

The Long Island accent. This is from the popular TV show, Seinfeld. You will instantly notice the distinctive Long Island accent as spoken by the sole lady in this scene.

Last, but not least is my accent. Many people often think I am from Minnesota, but no, I am from Central New York about 400 miles from New York City (I do not have a New York City or Long Island accent). This video was made in 2009 before I really learned presentation skills. Some of my students have listened to this video and say I speak a lot faster here than I do now. In fact, when asked to transcribe my talk, many are unable to get all the words correct! Seems like I was talking too fast, then!

Thank you for spending time on my site. I am Jennifer Kumar, a cross cultural, language and accent trainer based in Kochi, India. To learn more about the American Accent program available in Kochi (Infopark), Kerala and throughout India, click here.  

Networked blogs link: http://nblo.gs/QzMoI

October 26, 2013

How to Pronounce the Word Country in American English

How to Pronounce "Country" in American English - Podcast 

Step 1: 
Divide the syllables: 
Coun | try 

Step 2: 

Pronounce syllable 1 - COUN 
Coun – as in the word cunning 
This vowel is the “uh” sound, and it’s a short vowel. This vowel is a sustained sound and vibrates, similar to the v and z sounds. Check out this video to learn how to pronounce it. 

Step 3: 

Pronounce syllable 2 – TREE 
Tree – tr is one sound, no vowel sound will enter between these two sounds. It is a T sound not a D sound. The “y” sounds like a really long e sound. Use your rubber band and make it long for the “e” sound if you need a visual representation. 

If T and D are difficult sounds to hear and make, see this video.

**For those who have sat in my class, you are already aware about this sound. For newcomers to the ‘rubber band’ technique, check the second video below (under the video for the “uh” or the ʌ sound. Take note that “ʌ” is the International Phonetic Symbol for the vowel sound in “coun.”

Step 4:

Pronounce both syllables together assuring there is a slight pause between the two syllables.

You got it! ☺ It will said different said in isolation compared to in a sentence. Record yourself saying it in your natural way in isolation, then with the accent training. Record yourself saying it in your natural way in a sentence, and then in a sentence with the sound training. Listen back. Do you hear the difference?

Also, hear this word pronounced at dictionary.com. Click here.

Podcast on how to pronounce country by Jennifer Kumar of Authentic Journeys.

How to use rubber bands to "see" how to pronounce long vowels in English words for stress and expression. This video is not produced by Authentic Journeys.

Jennifer Kumar helps Malayalees and other Indians reduce mother tongue influence and be understood better by Americans through cultural and linguistic training sessions. Contact her today.

Related Posts:

V and W sounds are two separate sounds in English, but one sound in most Indian languages. Learn more here. 
J and Z - English Pronunciation Exercises

Networkedblogs link: http://nblo.gs/Qs5nF

October 3, 2013

Why Americans Expect Counterparts to Ask Questions

The importance of asking questionsThis is a hot topic in my coaching engagements and management seminars. I am often assigned to work with up and coming managers and even seasoned managers with 5-20 years of experience to help them "take initiative" and "ask questions." When we start the sessions, I am often asked, "Why do Americans expect me to ask questions?"  

This topic has been discussed and debated from various angles. Today I have created a new theory I would like to share with you. If you can spare five minutes, take a listen to this podcast below. Feel free to share your experiences below in the comments section.  

Please listen to the below the recording for some feedback from past clients who have worked with me on this topic!  

Thank you for spending your valuable time here.  

“Jennifer provided my direct reports the skills to take initiative and speak up to the U.S. clients. Jennifer has helped a few of my direct reports to speak up with US clients in a clearer way, taking initiative to ask questions, express ownership, and discuss new ideas. In fact, the client is so pleased as the work productivity has improved. A few of the ideas proposed by my direct reports have started to take shape and the client is very excited about it. More than the work relationship, the personal relationship has also improved. Due to this, we are getting more interaction with the client.” ~Bangalore Based Financial Professional

“I have learned that speaking slower is a benefit to getting people to understand me with more clarity. Before I used to rush through all my presentations, thinking the faster I spoke, the more I could say. In fact, the more I said, the more confused my audience got. Jennifer helped me to understand this and adjust my presentations accordingly. Due to this, I could attend my management presentations with more confidence and my manager did not have to spend his time watching my presentation. Now my team and my manager have more confidence in me!”
~ Middle Manager in a South Indian Company working with Europeans and Indians across India

“I used to speak and write in very long sentences. The idea I had was the longer the sentences; the more it would show that I am fluent in English. This worked against me. Longer sentences meant the audience was losing the message in complicated grammar and sometimes-negative tones. She taught me how to recognize these flaws in my communication. Now I speak and write in a variety of shorter and longer sentences to maintain a good conversational flow with my clients.” ~ Manager with 20 years experience in Infopark

Contact Jennifer today to start coaching and improving client interactions with US counterparts.

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.