If you are living and working or studying in the United States, you may notice that a lot of people like to talk about sports. It’s a comfortable topic for small talk and socializing no matter where you go — at school, at your office, in an Uber, or at a party. Whether you like American Football or not, it is everywhere!
Today, let’s practice our American pronunciation and accent improvement by learning the thirty-two (32) American Football teams in the National Football League (NFL).
In this English lesson, you’ll not only learn the names of American Football teams. You’ll learn difficult-to-pronounce American city and region names, everyday words that are part of the team names, and we’ll focus on three pronunciation points. I encourage you to watch the video to hear all the examples. If you’d like to learn more, join my American English Pronunciation Course!
American English Pronunciation Points 1:
When the Plural “S” sounds like a “Z”
You know that to make a singular noun plural, you add an “s.” Did you know that many times that “s” doesn’t sound like an “s?” It changes to a different sound, a “z.”
Let’s learn the pronunciation rules for this. A letter “s” sounds like a “z” when the word ends in a letter “s, l, m, n, r” or a vowel sound, including “y.”
American English Pronunciation Point 2:
When a “T” sounds like a “D”
In American English, we typically change a letter “t” to a “d” when it comes between two vowels. For example, listen to how I say a city in the US that follows this rule, “Cincinatti,” in the video. We say “Cin-cin-AD-i.”
However, there’s a team name that does not follow this rule — The Titans. Why is this? It’s because when a letter “t” starts a stressed syllable, it does not change to a “d” sound. “Titan” comes from the word “titanic.” It is said “ti-TAN-ic.” You see the letter “t” begins a stressed syllable. Therefore, when shortened to “Titan,” we do not say “ti-dan.” We keep the “t” sound.
Anyway, that’s an exception to the rule. Most of the time, the letter “t” between two vowels will sound like a “d” in American English. The more practice and input (listening) you do, the easier this will become!
American English Pronunciation Point 3:
When and Why to Use the Schwa Sound
The schwa is an amazing pronunciation rule. In the video below, I explain how and when we use it. Basically, a schwa is a weak vowel sound that sounds like “uh.” It happens next to, either before or after, a strong syllable. That’s why when we say the team name “The Titans,” we do not pronounce it as “TI-TANS.” We do not pronounce all syllables with the same force in English. Each word in English has a stressed, or strong, syllable. The other syllables are weak and use a schwa sound. There may be some exceptions, but in general this is true and important to note. When you begin to pronounce words properly with a stressed and unstressed syllables, you will sound more natural and native-like. Therefore, we say “Ti-tuhns” and not “TI-TANS.”
These pronunciation rules are much easier to understand when you listen to the video, below! If you’d like to learn more, consider my premium American English Pronunciation Course.