So I am unsure whether to include the "t" in the pronunciation. I have heard both the t being pronounced distincly and left out entirely ( sound like "sh" sound only) and this is not just about this word but about every instance in which there is "tu". My dictionary says "æktfually" which I dont understand shouldnt it be "ækchually" ?Another word would be "structure" sometimes I hear the second "t" other times its just the "sh.
Actual is correctly pronounced with a tʃ (ʃ = sh as in sharp) sound after the t.
If I were to pronounce it like this "ækshually" because I have trouble adding the t unless I make an excessive stop would that be okay?
No one's going to notice or care if you pronounce ct as a non-aspirated k and follow it with a ʃ (sh) with no t, and this is how people say it quickly or when not emphasizing the word.
Pronouncing it correctly definitely involves a firm stop. Ask a native speaker to repeat the word slowly and very clearly, and they will do the same.
A hidden ʃ is often added after t in some words, particularly with tr and ctu - e.g. sanctuary, trade, try, triangle.
Personally I think this is an issue of "King's English" vs "American English". Brits (Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians) that I know use the hard t in the middle, making it almost a 4 syllable word "act-tu-al-ly", whereas most Americans use the sh in the middle and it's 3 syllables; "ak-shu-ly".