3 tips for sounding like a Canadian

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If you want to be easier to understand, then here are three tips to help you sound more like a Canadian.

  1. Improve your pronunciation

    The key to being easy to understand is pronunciation and word stress. You absolutely don’t need to lose your accent! Pronunciation is the sounds you make when speaking, and word stress is which syllable in a word you say more clearly.

    Every language uses the mouth and tongue differently. Each word has different word stress although there are patterns. English pronunciation is very hard because there are 44 sounds and 26 letters. This means that the same letter will be pronounced differently in different words. For example, think of the sound of the letter “o” in “home” and “top”. The same letter can be pronounced as a long vowel (h-oh-m), and a short vowel (t-ah-p).

    “There is no reason for you to worry about sounding like a Canadian. In 2021, one in four Canadians were, or once were, permanent residents. This means that the accent that used to be the most common, from Ontario to British Columbia, isn’t the only accent you will hear.”

    Even with these challenges, you can absolutely improve your English pronunciation! When working on pronunciation, think about how you use your mouth and tongue. When you speak English, you need to move the tip of your tongue a lot. Your mouth is your tool for great pronunciation, and you have to train yourself to use it correctly.

    Practice with online resources such as the Sounds American YouTube channel or the Rachel’s English YouTube channel. Rachel’s English also has a podcast. Also, listen to Canadians speak on TV, in movies, or on the radio. Hoopla is a free TV and movie streaming service from the Winnipeg Library. Finally, work on the pronunciation of specific words with an online dictionary. The Cambridge Learner’s dictionary will pronounce each word for you.

  2. Learn local vocabulary

    Increasing your vocabulary is more important than trying to lose your accent. You can improve your local vocabulary by:

    • watching Canadian TV and, most importantly, using the phrases you hear in your life
    • reading and listening to North American writing
    • studying vocabulary.

    Here’s a list of thirty common Canadian phrasal verbs to learn this month. You can also use free online resources at your library, such as Active Reading.

    In this video, Canadian actor, Will Arnett, explains some Canadian slang:

    Will Arnett Teaches You Canadian Slang | Vanity Fair

    In this video, newcomer Marina Mogilko explains how she learns new vocabulary:

  3. English vocabulary study plan – 30-day English learning routine, linguamarina

  4. Be patient and be consistent

    Increasing your vocabulary and improving your pronunciation takes time – these are truly lifelong processes. Find a way to make learning fun, and remember to be consistent! Spending 15 minutes twice a week is better than two hours once a month.


Don’t worry about sounding like a Canadian

There is no reason for you to worry about sounding like a Canadian. In 2021, one in four Canadians was, or once was, a Permanent Resident. This means that the accent that used to be the most common, from Ontario to British Columbia, isn’t the only accent you will hear. As Paige Saunders, originally from New Zealand, says is his video below, “some Canadians speak like this.”

Learning about the Canadian accent, CBC

By Nastashya Wall
Sources: Immigrants make up the largest share of the population in over 150 years and continue to shape who we are as Canadians, Statistics Canada.

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