Why do Americans speak English so quickly? In this era of technology and fast-paced everything, language and speech also get thrown in the mix. Quick speaking is common in many parts of the United States — especially when it comes to large, cosmopolitan cities — but it isn’t the case in every single city. However, speaking fluently, quickly, and correctly is a guaranteed way to sound like a native American English speaker!
Blending Sounds and Contractions
Sound blending is the ability to build words from individual sounds by blending the sounds together in sequence. This is as fundamental as stringing together the sounds for any word (take the word ‘mom,’ for example, which is the sequence of sounds for the letters m, o, and m again). The quicker a person speaks, the easier it is to omit sounds, blending only the most important ones in order to be understood.
Contractions literally mean to make something smaller; to contract it. This is the technique of taking two words and shortening them, making them one word instead. The omitted letters are often replaced in written English by an apostrophe.
Although speaking correctly, without doubt, involves a balance of enunciation, intonation, and cadence, American English speakers (like so many other language speakers!) modify and simplify according to their needs. A lot of it is specific to American culture, and some of it might be seen as laziness. Nevertheless, understanding how to blend words and speak quickly like a native will help you understand (and be understood) in plenty of colloquial conversations.
Some good examples of sound blending and contractions are:
- Should have → Should’ve → Shoulda
- I’m going to → I’m gonna
- Is not → Isn’t
There’s More to Fluency than Vocabulary!
Have you ever felt like you know a lot of words, but you’re unsure of how to say them together and build phrases or sentences? Memorizing vocabulary lists are helpful when building your vocabulary, but after that it’s so important to learn how to use the words! When vocabulary words are on a list, they’re all by themselves. Words look and sound so different when they’re on their own as opposed to when they’re in a phrase. Once you’re able to build sentences easily, you will see how quickly you will string words together, and how much quicker you’ll be comfortable speaking.
Are you determined to learn English, but are frustrated by the speed at which many American English speakers speak? One useful tip is to watch videos (check out all of Gabby’s FREE videos here) or listen to podcasts at a reduced speed. Music is also a great learning tool, as you’re able to pick from a wide array of genres that already have a slower tempo or speed built in (like ballads or classic rock). This is a great way to learn, listen, and be entertained at the same time!
Practice with Friends
A secret to learning how to speak English fluently and quickly is to speak it often with others! If you and your friends have a particular subject you’re passionate about, you can use that to practice your vocabulary and sentence skills, and eventually your mouth will catch up with your mind. Take something you’re already passionate and informed about in your native language, and apply that knowledge to English. Whether it be politics, music, science, or literature (or anything else!), share your love for a subject with your friends and use that to build up your speaking speed and confidence.
Check out what Gabby has to say below, and see if you can keep up! 😉