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3 Myths About Accent Modification

3 Myths About Accent Modification in the Global Town Hall 


English Language Learners (ELL), HR professionals, and expert Speech Trainers as professional peers each have a role to play in advocacy for linguistic diversity. An unexpected offering of 2020 was the fast-forwarding of open communication with global talent. The power of listening was key learning in the virtual workplace that is transforming our lives as we come together in the global town hall.

ELLs are to be applauded for linguistic talents that forge appreciation of diversity. Linguistic talents expand new markets and critical new perspectives in team collaboration. 

We have the opportunity to look beyond the window dressing of hiring globally in the celebration of accents. As stakeholders, we can partner to 'be better’ in the compassionate sharing of the burden for effective communication in American English.


Love and nurture your linguistic life.

We are all listeners of acquired American accents. We must steer clear of stereotypes and facilitate kind communication. If you are party to a communication breakdown, respect the effort. As you would with anyone, ask them kindly to repeat themselves.

Please share this article with the bilingual and multilingual ‘stars’ and stakeholders in your global town hall.

Let’s slay a few myths about accent modification.


Myth 1

The goal of accent modification is mastery of an idealized pronunciation of American English.

Truth? 

Not true. 

Truth 

We all have accents! I have to state this truth because pervasive in our thinking is that everyone else has an accent. Your accent in your mother language conditions your brain to hear it neutrally. Its set of sounds becomes the primary template in any new language learning. The first language sounds naturally fill in similar sounds in the acquisition of a new language. International multi-lingual environments support effective communication with pronunciation classes. In the United States, we refer to the learning of the pronunciation rules of American English as accent modification, that is we modify your template overlay on YOUR American accent to better align for ease and comprehensibility.


The goal of learning an accent is for the mutual best communication between speakers and listeners in their shared language. The Standard American English accent is the most universally understood of English accents. This connection makes it the typical training choice by accent modification trainers. 


Myth 2

Accent modification compromises cultural presentation.

Truth? 

Not true. 

Truth

All languages have accents with regional variations with which speakers identify. For belonging, it can be a comfort to share linguistic features with your community.


In accent modification, your native language pronunciation may soften. If you don't use your native language for a prolonged time, don't worry you will not lose it. A call to members of your first language group will revitalize it! Similarly, a reduction in American English exchanges is supported with virtual accent modification.


A pivot to your clear American accent is a powerful image and is not a betrayal of a mother language group. Effective communication is a credibly respected way to remove barriers and represent your culture.


Myth 3

Pronunciation differences from a standard are a fault of non-native speakers.

Truth? 

Not true. 

Truth

Accents occur naturally and are no one’s fault. Twenty percent of the world’s population speaks English and most are not native speakers. This universal learning of the English language necessitates non-native speaking teachers, contributing to accents as unique as a fingerprint.  English is a shared language, not owned by any geographical group.  It is owned by each speaker for the purpose of effective connection.   


As an ELL, you have watched countless videos, studied grammar books, and probably spent money on courses promising better English in a short amount of time. You might feel you are spending too much time trying to improve your English, only to continue to experience trouble being consistently understood in the context you choose.


If you keep doing what you do, with little change, you will not have a clear accent. Maybe you assume that an environment of American English speakers will make you sound like a near-native speaker. Could you learn to play the piano by ear because your roommate is a concert pianist?


The advice you need. Free.

You are aiming for the direct path to the top of your profession. Instead of wasting time to learn everything, you need to focus on what you need to systematically acquire an effective American accent representative of your linguistic talents. 


Employees on a management track are routinely offered other types of elective communication skill training, such as negotiating or presentation skills valued by businesses. 


Accent modification by a qualified provider is professional development. Investing in clear, effective communication, is a prerequisite for promoting team leadership and management levels. You need to follow these 3 targeted steps in training when partnering with an accent modification program.


Step One - YOUR American Accent

The first pillar of best practices in an accent modification program is a framework designed to measure the results promised. Expert American English pronunciation coaches are Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) who are native speakers. They train with research-based methods, empowering a shift in awareness for conscious speech habit changes. Bookends to this efficacy are a pre- and post-program personal speech analysis. A pre-assessment maps the most urgent accent differences for focused training that expedites change. The post-assessment measures improvement.


Step Two - YOUR Life

The second pillar is a core competency. A systematic depth of training with methods curated in strategic combinations to align with personal pronunciation goals. Also in a technologically robust delivery for engagement and momentum, because we can! These best practices accelerate the learning of pronunciation and support a learner's shift in awareness to pivot accents in context, often referred to as code-switching.


Step Three - YOUR Way

The final pillar is the bridging of practice to the real-life integration of complex skills. You’ll need to learn to transition from learner to the role of a skilled judge. Self-monitoring with informed qualitative reflection and skilled self-correction are essential to advancing speech goals. This transformation of practice to integrated skills is the path to independently sustain change. 


I’ve helped thousands of people improve their pronunciation with this focused, step-by-step method. It offers the most efficient way in accent modification to effective communication.


For your consideration, a couple of SpeakEasy! testimonials:

"Extremely effective program. Helped me speak more intelligibly by identifying and correcting the sounds I would typically mispronounce. Provided me with excellent online tools to understand the mechanics of the American English accent pronunciation (mouth and tongue placement etc.), and train my ear to recognize and address my accent-related challenges.” - Pierre M., Physicist


"There are many sounds which I thought I pronounce correctly before the course, and once I have realized that I am way off, I have asked my team members to confirm that my "old" way is bad and "new" way is close to native. They did, and when I have asked "why you never mentioned it to me before", they just said that they got used to me sounding funny. I am glad I am correcting this now.” - Mikhail F., Computer Scientist


My accent story

Near graduation, a professor told me, "We can't let you graduate until you fix your speech." It was with complete surprise and embarrassment when I heard myself say "mouf" for the very first time. How was it that I had not heard my speech error in the word mouth? No one had told me. I was 26 and succeeding in a Master's degree program for Speech and Language Pathology. At that moment, I felt the threat of my dream of being the first in my family to receive a Master's degree, ending. My /f/ sound in the word "mouth" was an outlier in my clear, standard American English pronunciation. I assessed later that day, it was an artifact of motherese from my non-native-speaking mother. It would be distracting for a speech pronunciation specialist to mispronounce mouth. Motivated to modify my one sound error, I 'fixed' it in one day. I did graduate!


I know a little bit of how it feels. I have a strong understanding of an individual's communication challenges when their speech is different from their community. 


I have assembled a proven accent modification program. I encourage you to contact me to discuss your needs and how we can partner. [email protected]

We value accents

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