ACCENT REDUCTION THERAPY
By Georgie Harding – Founder & Head Speech Pathologist
What Is Accent Reduction Therapy?
If you speak English as a second language, it’s likely that at some point you’ve thought about your pronunciation and accent and how easily others understand you.
I’ve been providing English pronunciation training (accent reduction training) to thousands of people over the past 15 years. Here’s a helpful summary on all things accent related to help people who are looking for accent reduction therapy or a course or training.
What is accent reduction therapy? An outdated term referring to the process of changing the speech sounds a person makes in a second language so they sound more like a native English speaker. Also known as accent reduction, accent modification and more commonly English pronunciation training.
Whatever you would like to call it – accent reduction therapy, English pronunciation training, accent reduction, accent modification- as English becomes the international language of business people who speak English as a second language want to be well understood.
For most people being easily understood is necessary for job interviews and working effectively in an English speaking country. Some of those people may also have the personal goal to sound more like a native English speaker.
Before we go any further I’d like to highlight something. The term ‘accent reduction therapy’ is very outdated and thankfully, not used any more.
The reason for this is that ‘therapy’ is not an appropriate word to use. Using the word ‘therapy’ implies there is something wrong in the first place. And this is absolutely not the case.
See our article ‘Why We Should Stop Using The Term Accent Reduction’.
Accents are a very important part of who we are and every person in the world has an accent.
If people understand us easily then there is no need to change anything. However, many people choose to aim to sound more like a local for personal reasons and undergo training to do so. There’s a much better word that ‘therapy’ and that word is ‘training’.
As you have searched for the word ‘accent reduction therapy’ we will call it that for now. But in future, I recommend you search for the term ‘English pronunciation training’.
Accent reduction therapy is usually provided by a Speech Professional, in most cases a Speech and Language Therapist or Speech Pathologist. In this case, Speech Pathologist’s or Speech therapists help people change and improve their pronunciation and how to move their tongue and mouths to make the sounds used for English.
Traditionally this type of training was delivered face to face over a series of months. In the last 10 years, with the spread of high speed internet, these days a lot of accent reduction therapy is delivered online through video or podcasts.
Online is an excellent way for people to access accent reduction therapy. The biggest determiner of how much people improve is how much they practise. People taking online training often get the best results because they are engaging in practise and taking training lessons regularly – every day or every second day at least.
What Is The Process of Accent Reduction Therapy?
Pronunciation and accent can be broken down into these key areas – vowels, consonants, word stress, sentence stress, weak vowels, rate of speaking, volume of speaking and general mouth position, word endings and pronunciation of grammar aspects such as past tense endings and plural endings.
The process if Accent Reduction Therapy is to systematically change a persons pronunciation, aiming to make their pronunciation more like a native speaker.
The steps of accent reduction therapy are as follows:
- Identify what areas of pronunciation should be changed for clearer English
- Learn to hear the difference between the error sound and the target sound
- Learn the correct pronunciation of the target sound
- Practise until the speaker has good control over both the error sound and the target sound and can make both sounds easily
- More practise until the speaker has good control over both the error sound and the target sound in words
- Practise until the speaker has good control over both the error sound and the target sound in phrases
- More focused practise in sentences and conversation until the speaker can self monitor their errors and self correct.
Should I Have An English Pronunciation Assessment?
A helpful first step of Accent Reduction therapy is to have a speech and pronunciation evaluation or assessment from a specialist.
These are available online and 1:1 with people who provide English pronunciation training (accent reduction therapy).
Speech Active offers the following assessment options:
Assessment By A Speech Pathologist:
We offer English Pronunciation Assessments completed by a Speech Pathologist. You will receive an audio file with feedback that has been recorded specifically for you outlining your problem areas. You’ll also receive a full written report detailing all your strengths and weaknesses. See more details on our English Pronunciation Assessments.
A Self-Guided Assessment:
Every Speech Active course includes a guided self assessment. Our courses are tailored specifically for speakers of your first language and we have a guided assessment that has been designed specifically for speakers of your first language.
How Long Does Accent Reduction Therapy Take?
This depends what you’re aiming to achieve and your level of skill.
Most people who enrols in a quality accent reduction course can expect to see improvements in their clarity within a matter of weeks.
See more on “How Long Does It Take To Change My Accent?”
What Are The Benefits of Accent Reduction Therapy?
Our clients list three main benefits of English pronunciation training:
- Improved speaking confidence
- Understanding other people
- Being easily understood in all situations
One of the major reasons to consider English pronunciation training is the change that speaking clearer English can bring to your quality of life and the impact on your career.
Many people who are not easily understood by others experience daily frustrations and a lack of confidence.
In English speaking workplaces, being well understood is very important. Similarly when socialising and meeting new people, being able to talk and have a discussion that flows easily allows the building of relationships and friendships.
There are many benefits of clearer, more confident English, our students report the following:
- Performing better in job interviews
- Giving better presentations
- More confidence when contributing in meetings at work
- More effective working relationships
- Feeling happier and more confident at work
- Managing the complicated admin side of life much more easily – talking to the tax office on the phone for instance.
- Stronger personal relationships and friendships
- Career success and development
There is also another element that ESL speakers should consider. There is some research that suggests that if people aren’t able to understand you effectively then they may not pay as much attention to what you have to say as they would another native English speaker.
This is common across all cultures, so if people are struggling to understand you in the workplace you may not be able to fulfil your role to your full potential. I don’t include this to scare anyone, but it is important to be aware of potential negative impacts.
What Accent Reduction Therapy Options Are Available?
There are so many different options available to learners. Be wary of cheap courses, it’s very unlikely a cheap course will give you the practise you need to make real changes.
The table below details the cost of the training and the level of effectiveness assuming the student completes the required practice.
The biggest determiner of success is how often you practise. So be sure to choose a training option that will allow you to engage in practise, daily or at least every few days.
How Much Should I Pay For Accent Reduction Therapy?
As with most things in life if you want quality you’re going to need to pay for it.
As I’ve said before, achieving proper change through accent reduction therapy takes time.
You should plan for at least 2 – 3 months to see significant changes. Don’t believe claims that you’ll achieve overnight success.
If you’re going to dedicate that much time to achieving good results you want to have the best possible help. Choosing a lesser quality option over another to save $100 is probably not a smart decision in the long term.
This is an investment that will give you skills you’ll use to continually improve your English over months and years to come.
You are better off saving your hard earned money for a little longer to achieve the best results.
How To Get Started With Accent Reduction Therapy?
I’ve written this post to share my experience and help you make the best possible decision.
We want to help anyone from anywhere achieve clear, confident English.
Now hopefully you feel better prepared to make the best decision.
Before you go, guess what? I spent 3 years producing what I think are the most effective accent reduction therapy courses available.
With Speech Active English Pronunciation Courses you’ll learn with a combination of audio, video and written notes, plus great interactive exercises and listen and compare training, to give you an amazing result.
And, you guessed it, Speech Active training is tailored specifically for speakers of your first language! So you will learn in the most efficient and effective way.
To learn more about our comprehensive training that will take your spoken English to the next level, take a look at our course list and choose your language, or sign up to our free 5 day English Pronunciation video course to get started.
Do you have more questions?
Or would you like to speak to us about your English speaking goals?
If you’ve got any questions, jump on the chat on our website or send us an email.
Or you can call us on +61411295828.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Accent Reduction Therapy
Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPath) and CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.
Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.
If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence.
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