What is an accent?
An accent is the result of learning the sounds of more than one language. Accents are natural. Native languages distinctively impact a new language's speech by varied opposing features of sound production, intonation, rate and fluency, at times resulting in communication barriers. These variations may affect comprehensibility, that is, a listener's judgement of how difficult it is to understand the non-native speaker. Individuals can have noticeable accents and still be clearly understood.
'Accentedness' is the degree of difference perceived from the listener's community.
What is accent modification training?
Accent modification training as defined by the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association follows:
Accent modification is an elective service sought by individuals who want to change or modify their speech patterns.
A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) with the linguistic knowledge of the typical foreign accent speech sounds of 47 world languages embedded when speaking American English, combined with knowledge of neuroplasticity training of oral motor speech sounds, brings an expert foundation to efficiently identify and implement accent change that can be sustained. BEST PRACTICE provided by an SLP and proven effective by research, begins with a phonological and intonation assessment. Followed by a highly detailed phonetic transcription of speech approximations from the samples and an individualized pattern analysis to complete a specific hierarchy in target selection. This is the foundation for a personal accent modification master plan for sustainable change. The purpose of each individualized session is to teach the client how to practice targets accurately by developing listening skills, followed by integration into daily conversation. SpeakEasy! is here to help.
How proficient in English do I need to be?
Generally, to participate in this training, adults need to be at an intermediate ESL level or functionally conversational. If you have been assessed, a minimum proficiency of 7th grade reading level is needed to follow the materials. We promise it's not painful! We help polish your English pronunciation and language skills at a conversational level. Hope this helps, give us a call if you are unsure.
How much can I change my accent?
Change relies heavily on your guided practice and review the materials daily for one hour; conversely, those who spend less time in practice and review will improve less. Therefore we can't guarantee the results, but research of the PESL method, when completed as described has probable and reasonable change to the ease of listening of approximately 50% or more. Here is a link to hear audio samples of typical improvement of 10 different native language speakers, listen here. It will take 3 to 6 months of repetitive practice for your newly learned speech patterns to begin to be integrated in conversational American English. Individuals who do not practice what they learn in each session will not likely achieve similar results. We use some cool technology to keep you motivated.
Will learning the American accent compromise my cultural presentation?
No. Accent Modification is the final step in completing your linguistic investment in learning American English. The benefits of a bilingual and multilingual life are obvious. This training will teach you the skills to use American pronunciation in situations and be understood. Listeners will be more fully engaged when they don't need to 'listen hard'. Your American English accent will 'softened' and the content of your message will be conveyed rather than your accentedness, the degree of difference perceived from the listening community. Successful communication, in your accent, is a very powerful image and a credibly respected way to represent your culture.
Accentedness can be a factor considered in some work duties. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that an employer may not base an employment decision on a person’s foreign accent, unless the accent seriously interferes with the person’s job performance. Consequently, employers will often require effective communication skills as being necessary to the position, this is not accent discrimination. Let's remove accentedness as a barrier to your full and complete success.
Accent Modification Stories:
10 Keys to Becoming…
Master Communication Skills & Confidence
Mind Tools – Improving Communication
How Self-Motivated Are You?
How to Motivate Yourself
Self Motivation - How Can You Improve Yours?