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You can Understand FAST English from Native Speakers

Many of my advanced students in my university classes have come to me and said, "Teacher, I understand you, but I can't understand regular people." These students usually have a very high levels of English and they're been studying for years and years. So, what is it about native speakers that my students can't understand and can they learn it?

The answer is YES, you can easily learn the American accent. I'm going to take you through 5 examples of fast English where Americans are reducing or connecting sounds.

1. Did + you = Didya or Didja

The “ja” sound in this example doesn’t only happen with the word “did” it is common anytime a word ends in “d” and the next word starts with a “y.” You can say “would you” as “wouldja.” For example: Would you mind helping me?

Why would Americans combine these words and create a new sound? First, the answer has to do with the way the sounds work in the mouth, but also, these word combinations are very common. This spoken English habit also works because typically you are looking at the person when you say these phrases.

Americans will have more relaxed speech when they are face-to-face.

2. And as “n”

There are a lot of names in English with two nouns that are connected with “and.” In and Out, Johnson and Johnson, H and M, or Black and Decker. There are also many common nouns (or collocations) that have this combination. Macaroni and cheese, peas and carrots, tea and biscuits, dogs and cats. Adjectives and prepositions too! Up and down, top and bottom, black and white….

So, this one is EVERYWHERE.

3. You --> Ya

Once you learn this one, you will hear it everywhere! When “you” is not the focus of the sentence OR when I’m am looking at the person that I’m speaking with, Americans will not pronounce the formal “you” form of the word. Americans will shorten it to “ya.”

Remember, anytime Americans need to clarify a sentence or repeat an idea, they will say the formal version of the word. They will not use fast English or connected speech.

4. Your/You’re --> “yer”

This example is more common in different regions of the United States. I’m from Texas and if you plan to study or travel to Texas, you 100% need to learn this variation of your/you’re. In other areas of the country, this pronunciation is not as strong, but you can still hear it. Remember the United States is a big diverse country with many accents and dialects, so if this lesson isn’t true for you, it might be describing a different region.

5. Can you --> Kin-ya

“Can you” is a very frequent way to start a question in English. It is so frequent, in fact, that we have a reduction for it! “Can you” sounds exactly like the country Kenya which is in West Africa.

We don’t use “kin-ya” every time that we speak, but in a relaxed conversation you will find that it is very common. If we want to be a little more polite, we will enunciate or say the words clearly as a sign of respect. For many conversations, “kin-ya” is perfectly acceptable.

This does not cover every way that Americans reduce or combine sounds in English, but it will get you started. You can find more information about the technical side of fast English in this blog about linking and connected speech!

Are you a teacher? You can find classroom materials on this topic here!

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