FAQ – Accent Reduction

Commonly Asked Questions

 

How can I reduce my accent?

The first thing you can do to reduce your accent is to learn to speak your English in the American cultural style. Every cultural group has their own melody style with how they speak their language. When someone learns a second language like English, it is natural to speak it in the melody style of your first language because after all, that is what talking is to you. Many melody styles from other languages can be described as monotone, fast or choppy. American melody is spoken differently when compared to other languages. The good news is it is not hard to learn. Learning how to speak English with American melody will significantly improve the clarity of your speech and sound more American. In addition it will reduce or eliminate many of your accented traits.

 

Another reason most people speak with an accent is because your brain is comparing the new sounds to the sounds it already knows from your first language. When a sound is completely new such as /th/ or a particular vowel sound, your brain will make the best approximation it can to say the sound correctly. Therefore, when the target sound is mispronounced the result is speech that is accented.

 

Accent reduction is an achievable goal. It is a myth that you will need to learn several new sounds. Many of the American consonant and vowel sounds already exist in your native language. The difference is a matter of learning new habits and behaviors based on the Standard American Speech model. Once you have identified what it is you want to change, implementing a new habit will give you clear and professional sounding speech. Call us for a complementary evaluation to profile your speech patterns and discuss your goals.

 

Why do people choose to lose their accent?

People choose to reduce or eliminate their accent for a variety of reasons.

  • People pursue accent reduction if they feel others are having difficulty understanding them. Studies show that a listener will stop saying “what?” or ask for clarification after the second time. After that, the situation becomes awkward.
  • Some accented speakers feel self-conscious or have less confidence and refrain from speaking situations if they feel there is a language barrier. There is a misperception that if someone is having trouble speaking the language then they must have trouble understanding it, which you know is not true. Perceptions like this can interfere with professional advancement or unfairly reduce someone’s level of credibility.
  • Sometimes people who lecture, negotiate or conduct business get frustrated when asked, “Where are you from?” or, “Your accent is so cute!” These types of comments can be frustrating to accented speakers and in addition, when a listener is distracted by someone’s accent it can move them away from the primary message. This can be a larger issue when business is conducted over the telephone.
  • Studies have shown that some people make an association with status in class and accented speech. Some people perceive certain accents to be in a lower economic class when compared to individuals who do not have accented speech.
  • Many people simply choose to eliminate their accent to blend in more with the American culture. Whatever the reason is, reducing or eliminating an accent is achievable and Speech and Voice Enterprises will work with you to achieve every goal.

 

Will an accent reduction program work for me?

Accent Reduction Will Work For You!

Our program will teach you the Standard American Speech model. This is the model that represents the official spoken language for the Untied States. It is also the model for professional and career speech patterns. Sometimes it is referred to as career speech, speaking like a CEO or sounding like a news broadcaster. Clear and articulate speech is critical when conducting business, negotiating, lecturing or participating in any communication interaction. Standard American Speech does not represent a specific region, origin or community. It is considered to be non-accented so when spoken correctly the listener could not identify the region or origin of the speaker.

Successful accent reduction is not about learning a long list of new sounds. It is about having increased awareness of your speech patterns and using new habits. By having awareness of the sounds you want to make and using new habits, clear speech will come with practice. At Speech and Voice Enterprises your result will be clear and understandable speech where you will look forward to speaking in personal and professional situations with great confidence!

 

Can a company not hire or promote me due to my accent?

Companies can set standards for communication based on a 1991 Supreme Court decision. If an individual does not meet communication standards, companies do have the right to dismiss, not offer a position or promote someone based on their speaking style when it has been determined that their speech is an interfering factor.

If you feel your speech is impacting your professional development, Speech and Voice Enterprises will work with you and offer strategies that will immediately improve the clarity of your speech after a few sessions.

 

Is it more difficult losing an Asian or Spanish accent compared to Northern European accented speakers?

No. Studies demonstrate that there is no relationship on the type or region of one’s accent and the ability to change it. Losing an accent is simply learning new sounds and speech habits. The origin of the language is not a factor for you to experience success with your accent reduction program. Speech and Voice Enterprises has extensive experience with many dialects and will assist you with improving your American speech.

 

I do not have a formal education. Can I still reduce my accent?

Yes. Studies demonstrate that there is no relationship between level of education and the ability to lose an accent and improve American speech. People with an 8th grade education and someone who holds a Ph.D., can eliminate an accent at the same rate. It is not about intelligence, it’s about practice. Learning American speech successfully is a matter of having awareness of your sounds, learning new habits and practice. All that is required is having a good command for the English language in terms of vocabulary and grammar and having reading comprehension for newspaper articles. Speech and Voice Enterprises offers a free consultation to determine if accent reduction is right for you so your time and money is never wasted.

Speech and Voice - Elizabeth Peterson


Elizabeth Peterson, Denver’s leading speech therapist and executive speech coach for over 22 years and is the author of Accent Reduction 101, Third Edition 2017 and Speak Like a Broadcaster & Lead Like a CEO, Third Edition 2017 . Learn More

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Elizabeth Peterson M.A., CCC-SLP Speech Therapist

Speech Therapist & Executive Speech Coach for over 20 years
Licensed speech therapist in the State of Colorado
Certified with the American Speech Language Hearing Association
CSHA and American Speech-Language Hearing Association

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