Practicing the American Accent with film and TV scenes
A great technique for improving your accent is reading short scenes from your favorite film or TV show. You can often find the script on line. Then watch the scene and try to imitate the actors’ way of speaking. Practice a short, three or four minute scene over and over again. You can even try to memorize it. Pay attention to the word stress, intonation and linking of word groups together. Try the following scene:
Here is an example of a very popular TV series: Breaking Bad. Here is YouTube clip of the scene
Below are the transcripts for you to practice reading:
Mike: You got a good thing going here. We all do. You want to risk it all on one junkie? Now I realize you two have a history, but this kid’s been on the bubble a while now. It’s a long time coming.
[Chuckles] Um… I used to be a beat cop, long time ago. And I’d get called out on domestic disputes all the time, hundreds probably over the years. But there was this one guy, this one piece of shit, that I will never forget: Gordy. He looked like Bo Svenson. You remember him? Walking Tall
? You don’t remember?
Mike: Anyway. Big boy; 270, 280. But his wife, or whatever she was, his lady, was real small. Like a bird, wrists like little branches. Anyway, my partner and I get called out there every weekend and one of us would pull her aside and say, “C’mon, tonight’s the night we press charges.” And this wasn’t one of those ‘deep down he really loves me’ setups, we got a lot of those, but not this. This girl was scared. She wasn’t gonna cross him no way, no how. Nothing we could do but pass her off to the EMTs, put him in the car, drive him downtown, throw him in the drunk tank. He sleeps it off, next morning out he goes, back home. But one night, my partner’s out sick and it’s just me. And the call comes in and it’s the usual crap. Broke her nose in the shower kind of thing. So I cuff him, put him in the car and away we go. Only that night, we’re driving into town, and this sideways asshole is in my backseat humming ‘Danny Boy’. And it just rubbed me wrong. So instead of left, I go right, out into nowhere. And I kneel him down and I put my revolver in his mouth and I told him, “This is it. This is how it ends.” And he’s crying, going to the bathroom all over himself, swearing to God he’s gonna leave her alone, screaming – much as you can with a gun in your mouth. And I told him to be quiet, that I needed to think about what I was gonna do here. And of course he got quiet. Goes still, and real quiet, like a dog waiting for dinner scraps. And we just stood there for a while: me acting like I’m thinking things over, and Prince Charming kneeling in the dirt with shit in his pants. After a few minutes I took the gun out of his mouth and I say; “So help me if you ever touch her again I will such and such and such and such and blah blah blah blah blah”.
Walter: Just… just a warning?
Mike: Hmph. Of course. Just trying to do the right thing. But two weeks later he killed her. Of course. Caved her head in with the base of a Waring blender. We got there, there was so much blood you could taste the metal. The moral of the story is, I chose a half measure when I should have gone all the way. I’ll never make that mistake again. [stands up] No more half measures, Walter.