American Accent Lessons for Software Teams in India – Over 65 Words With Video Tutorial

Posted On: May 17, 2015

What are some commonly mispronounced or misunderstood words said by engineers in India? Based on accent training programs given to more than 500 professionals working on global teams with Americans, the following words often are identified as target words for pronunciation practice and clarity in face-to-face and phone conversations. 

Follow the list bellow, divided into segments to see video tutorials on how to pronounce these words.

*Note this post is continuously being updated in 2020 with new videos to complete the 60 word wordlist of IT related words and tips for pronunciation and usage. Keep checking back to see new videos.

How to pronounce acceptable, administrative, administrator (1-3)

How to pronounce against, ample, applications, apply (4-7) 

How to pronounce architecture, available, availability, communication in an American Accent (8-11) 

(Learn how to ask for your US client’s meeting availability in a culturally appropriate way by following the tips in this blog.)

Pronounce MP words: combine, company, competitors, complain/t (MTI accent reduction tips for Malayalam speakers) 

Pronounce: Contact, Contract, Continue, Credit Card 

Learn how to say: Customer, Data base, Defect Reporting 

How to Pronounce Effectively, Elaborate, and Employee Properly 


Learn the pronunciation and meaning of encryption and encryption key with sample sentences from real tech blogs. 

Enrollment, Ensure, Enterprise: 

Execute – And How to Pronounce the Letter X and Sound for X (Xerox)

See the blog post here

Generalize (and other versions of this word)

Identifying Feature

Implemented/Implementation (and other versions of the word)


IOS (and how to spell the English alphabets in an American Accent)

Mission vs. Machine: Can you say, “My mission is to fix this machine?” 

See the tutorial on the letter/sound X.

Modify/Modificaiton – Jennifer’s tutorial on how to pronounce “modify” and “modification” with common pronunciation errors discussed and fixed.

Module/Schedule (words ending in DULE) 

Number, Opportunity, Ordinary, Organizer, Organization  


(video removed)



Properly, Purchase, Purpose


Release, Realize, Requirements, Result, Rule, Security



Thinking (vs. sinking/syncing) 

Traffic, Unit Testing, User Friendly, Verify, Work


Check out this blog

This post was created on May 17, 2015. Videos are being added during our #stayathome quarantine period in 2020… Follow us on Facebook to see Facebook live tutorials. 

In addition to going through every word on this list, I will share some general tips to improve pronunciation and articulation that can be used with these and other hard to pronounce words.

The first thing that anyone thinks about when talking about accent is sounds. Sounds or phonetics are the smallest part of the language. While it’s important to understand the differences in sounds, say when comparing English and Malayalam or English and Tamil or English and Hindi, the key is not to over focus only on sounds, but also learn the sounds to improve listening comprehension.

Some of the tricky sounds between most Indian languages and English are v/w, t/d, and the r sound, p/b, qu, s/z, j/z
Some tricky sounds between Malayalam and English are combined letters/sounds like mb/mp, nd/nt 

It’s not only important to get the sounds right, but when spelling words, names, or using abbreviations, the way we pronounce letters (the alphabets) can cause problems, too. In the list above, there is one abbreviation – IOS. In many south Indian accents, it may be said “eye” “yo” “yes”. To reduce this, instead, try saying it as “eye” “oh” “es”. 

When spelling something over the phone with double letters, say each letter separately. For instance, when spelling Jennifer, I’d say, jay – e – en – en – eye – ef – e – r – not jay- yee – double yen – eye – yef – ee – rrrr. (Though in South India, I may pronounce my name in the second way for people to understand me better!). 

The next element of pronouncing words properly are syllables. If you find it hard to pronounce a word, break it up into syllables. Even if you can’t get all the sounds correctly, breaking the syllables in the right place will help tremendously in listening comprehension with native speakers. 

Combined Sounds in Malayalam – Break into Syllables
Note in Malayalam, there are combined sounds like mp/mb, nt/nd and others. In Malayalam combined sounds will have only one sound, in English, these combined sounds will have a syllable break between them. 

Let’s take the word “combined”. In Malayalam, it’s possible, that the mb would sound like one sound. Instead, we need to break that sound into two to break the syllable – com | bined. Or, the word “number” would be “num | ber.

Note, that when combined sounds come at the end of a word, we do not break the syllable. For instance,  for the words numb, Ccomb and bomb, the b is also silent. For words like and, ant, complaint, want, etc. there is no syllable break between the n and d or n and t. But, for the word complaint, we do break the syllable between m and p – com | plaint. And, if a word ending in the combined sound is made longer, than the combined sound is broken into syllables. The word “want” is not broken between the n and t, but if we say “wanted,” then we break it – wan | ted.

Double Consonants
In many [South] Indian languages, double consonants are given more stress, but in English we usually break the syllable between a double consonants. For instance, the words “acceptable” becomes ac | cept | able. An exception to this if there is a suffix at the end, as in the word “enrollment” – en | roll | ment. 

Prefixes and Suffixes
As noted above, prefixes and suffixes always are their own syllable. 

Compound Words
Compound words result from two words being joined. We must split the syllable between the two words. For instance home | work or sun | shine.

Pausing in between words 
While this seems like common sense, sometimes when we talk too fast, we may not pause in between words. While there can be some complexities in this (like blended sounds), I won’t get into this here. For now, let’s talk about how it’s important to stop at the end of sentences, and also pause. Probably the two most commonly misheard words, which aren’t on the list above are thank you and New York

These are the main features of pronouncing words properly. There are other techniques used for pronouncing sentences (use of thought groups), that we have discussed in previous posts. Use these tips to improve clarity in communication while speaking to clients or colleagues in face to face or virtual (phone) meetings. And, over time, these tips will also help you to improve your listening comprehension as well. 

Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director of Authentic Journeys helps Indian offshore teams communicate with clarity and confidence with US and foreign clients. More at

Related Posts: 
Getting the right flow to English 
Why is it important to smile? 

Original posting date: May 2015, updated Feb. 4, 2020




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