Most ESL speakers mispronounce my name, Jennifer.  They say Jen Ni Fer.  American English speakers say Jen uh Fer.

What is the difference?  The schwa.  One of my students commented that it is what gives Americans their “casual” sound.  It helps to provide the rhythm to words.

A schwa is basically the “uh” sound.  It occurs in words longer than one syllable.  Pronounce it shorter and softer than the other syllables.  It is ALWAYS unstressed.   When spelling, it can be represented by any vowel.

Here are some examples (schwa is written as uh):

Jennifer:  pronounced /Jen uh fer/

experiments:  pronounced /Eks peer uh ments/

beautiful:  pronounced /B yout uh ful/