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Embassy Goals 30 September 2015 - by Robert Runyon

How to speak English like an American

The United States is an incredibly large place. It’s big…really really big. It takes a six hour plane ride just to get from one side of to the other. With that kind of size, it’s no surprise there’s not only a major difference in language between the US and places like Australia, the UK, and South Africa, but also from one place to another in the USA.

It’s easy to watch American TV and just assume that’s the way that people talk here, but in reality, there’s so much more.

To help our students learn about the differences in English across the USA we decided to focus on our home country of the United States for our Monthly Culture Day. Some of the school’s best teachers and staff were there to help bring English to life.

American English: New England

You can find some of the oldest buildings in the US in New England and its seafood specialties are among the best in the world. Try Boston clam chowder, Maine lobster, and oysters – just make sure you don’t have a shellfish allergy!


Center Director Zach is from Boston in New England

Typical Vocabulary from New England:

  • Bubbler – drinking fountain
  • Wicked – very (The party was wicked fun!)

American English: The South

The South has one of the most unique accents in the United States. Instead of pronouncing “-er” like other Americans, they typically pronounce it with an “-uh” sound.

Southern food is unlike any in the world, with specialties like collard greens, biscuits and gravy, pulled pork, jambalaya, key lime pie, and alligator.

American English - The South

Long-term teacher, Karen is from the South of the USA

Typical Vocabulary: The South

  • Reckon – think (I reckon it’s gonna rain today.)
  • Sugar, honey, sweetie pie – term of affection (Hi, sweetie pie!)
  • Fixin’ to – planning to (I’m fixin’ to go out tonight.)
  • Young’uns – children (A: Hey sugar, have you seen the young’uns anywhere? B: Nah, I reckon they’ve gone off to watch NASCAR.)

American English: The Midwest

The Midwest is famously called “flyover country”.  Why? Because people typically fly over these states as they travel between cities on the West Coast and cities on the East Coast. Travelers who fly over the Midwest miss out on incredibly nice and welcoming people and great natural beauty.

One great reason to stop in the Midwest is its biggest city: Chicago. Chicago-style pizza is unlike any other in the world. Be prepared to bring an appetite!

USA English - the Mid West

Teacher Megan is from the Midwest, known as “flyover country”

Typical Vocabulary from the Midwest

  • Pop – soda
  • You betcha! – Yes, okay, absolutely

American English: The Southwest and Texas

Bordered to the south by Mexico, this region has many different Latin influences in its food, language, and culture.

It also has some of the greatest natural wonders in the whole of the United States, with beautiful attractions such as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Monument Valley in Utah, and the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

Its food combines the best of Mexican and American cuisine. It’s cheesy, hearty, and incredibly delicious. Save room for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and nachos!

American English Texas and Southwest

“Howdy” – Residence Assistant, Alyssa, talks about American English in the South West

Typical Vocabulary from the Southwest and Texas

American English: The West Coast of the USA

The West Coast includes California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska and is famous for an open-minded and laid-back culture.

It is also a world center for technology. The device you’re reading this blog post on was probably developed in one way or another on the West Coast of America.

Its natural wonders are the gorgeous national parks of Yosemite and Crater Lake and tourist attractions include the iconic Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the Space Needle in Seattle. It borders the Pacific Ocean, so food has a heavy Asian influence, as Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai immigrants have mixed their cuisine with American ingredients.

American English- The West Coast

Robert is from Portland, Oregon on the West Coast of the USA

Typical Vocabulary from the West Coast of the USA

  • Hella – very (That class today was hella fun.)
  • Spendy – expensive (The shoes I bought today were hella spendy!)
  • Rad – cool, nice, interesting (I saw a hella rad movie last night.)
  • Dude – a guy (Hey dude, what’s up?)
  • Bail – to leave (Sorry I had to bail early last night, but I had to wake up early this morning.)
  • Aloha – Hawaiian for hello and goodbye

You may feel American culture isn’t very diverse, but hopefully you can now see just how  wicked-rad-varied it is here in the USA.

Download our Quick Guide to American English


Would you like to improve your English and experience life in America? Book an English course at one of our English schools in the USA, based in some of the most exciting cities in America.

Embassy English schools on the East Coast of the USA
Embassy English New York
Embassy English Boston

Embassy English schools on the West Coast of the USA
Embassy English San Diego
Embassy English San Francisco
Embassy English Los Angeles

Embassy English schools in Florida
Embassy English Fort Lauderdale

This blog post uses American spelling and grammar.


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One response to “How to speak English like an American”

  1. Preston Blake says:

    Nice Post! Thanks for Sharing.

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