HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ACCENT REDUCTION APP
What makes a great accent reduction app and how to avoid wasting your time.
One of the best things about the internet is the availability of easy to access, low cost education online. Having lots of experience in this space – I’ve now built 3 online apps – I thought it would be helpful to put down some of the functionality that Accent Reduction or English pronunciation apps provide and which ones should benefit you.
This article assumes you are an English second language speaker looking to speak English more clearly or sound like a native speaker. People usually start thinking about their accents after they have a good comprehension, grammar and vocabulary. Apps are a perfect way to way to commence the process or accent reduction or modification.
What type of objectives are you hoping to achieve? Is being understood most important or are you aiming to sound like someone who grew up speaking English as their first language.
What should an accent reduction or English pronunciation app do?
My view of an accent reduction app is a bit like an English pronunciation course. An app should be a one stop shop to help you achieve your goal of achieving nice clear, easy to understand English. It should provide a step by step process and to work on your speech and break the pronunciation improvements you need to work through into separate components.
Below is a list of most of the different features the various English pronunciation apps provide to people.
I was amazed by the number of English Pronunciation apps now available. Around 200 came up from a search on Itunes and Google Play. Here is a summary of what I’ve learned.
Some English Pronunciation App Features include:
- Select a word and learn how to speak it
- A computer generated voice overs have recordings
- Allows you to select english text and states how to pronounce it
- Demonstrates pronunciation using the IPA – the International Phonetic Alphabet
- A choice between British and North American pronunciation
- Provide guided audio recordings and practice sessions
- Lessons that provide practice of vowels and consonant sounds
- Glossary of terms and how to pronounce them
- Lots claim to ELIMINATE your accent.
- Lists of commonly used words and how to say them
- Training of English pronunciation through using tongue twisters
- Pronunciation advice
- The ability to listen to other learner’s pronunciation
- Female and male speakers
- Words and expressions
- The ability to save or bookmark pronunciations you find challenging
- elearning exercises
- Training of conditionals, verbs, pronouns, nouns, grammar, words and sentences.
- Assistance with reading, writing, listening and speaking
- The majority of popular apps have a voice recorder
- 50% of the top 20 apps used video for training
*Several of the apps claim they can remove an accent all together. This claim should be approached with caution. To completely remove an accent is a very difficult thing to achieve and is highly dependent on the motivation of the audience.
So you’re looking for an accent reduction app?
As with any training you need to consider what are your objectives. Most people seeking help with accent modification or accent reduction are part of two groups:
Group 1. Seeking to speak more clearly.
These people are English Second Language speakers who are wanting to speak more clearly and be better understood.
Group 2. Seeking to sound like a native English speaker
People who don’t have trouble being understood but are aiming to sound like a local. These people feel that sounding local will assist them in business dealings or socially. A lot of them are perfectionists and willing to work very hard for small changes.
Last year I finished building an accent course.
It took a lot longer than we’d originally planned, but we were determined to make sure all of the best features were included. To aid our students the most important functionality was the ability to save recordings and to compare the student’s speech to that of a native English speaker, plus allow some fun quizzes and activities to keep people engaged. While the system we have developed is not a true app – as in it isn’t located on a phone, it does provide everything an app should do via our website.
Speech Active App Review
Changing pronunciation takes time, you need your course to allow you enough time to do the practice before moving onto the next pronunciation area. In my view 10 weeks or more is a reasonable time to achieve great pronunciation outcomes. Look for an option that gives you plenty of time to practice.
In the screenshot below you can see the training video features:
In the screenshot below you can see the training video features:
- interactive accent reduction exercises (which are the small dots on the play bar)
- speech active notes – these are the notes you can print and hand write if this is a method that assists you to learn effectively
- Bonus resources, extra materials to give you extra training
- Other features include speech active audio files – allow you to record your speech for the pronunciation area and practice and compare your speech.
Our Active check tool allows your to check your accent reduction progress as you progress through the lesson. You can assess and compare yourself. Our students love this functionality and it’s extremely helpful.
However, I do need to mention that My Speech Active is not actually a mobile app, it’s what’s called an online APP. It doesn’t sit on your phone. It’s a website that you sign in to and access the online videos and training. We opted for this style of site because of the volumed of the content and size of the videos. To put 13 hours of video plus bonus lessons and audio files onto one person’s phone would have you screaming ”it’s too big, get it off my phone”. On the other hand it does do absolutely everything an app needs to do and more. It’s designed for mobile, has loads of interactive exercises, allows you to record and compare yourself and stores your recordings at the start and the end of the course. We think it’s the best thing available to teach pronunciation in the world today. But I am a bit biased!
To take a look at the app, watch this short screen recording shows you the main functionality and how to use it.
What is an app anyway?
A mobile app is is defined on wikipedia as “a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone, tablet or watch.” A web based app, does not use the local storage of the device but offers the same thing plus it can also be used on laptops or desktops. The advantage of a web based approach is it saves storage on the mobile device. The disadvantage is you do need to have web access to use the functionality.
What prices should I expect to pay for an accent reduction app?
There is a gigantic spread on prices for accent reduction apps and courses. There are lots of Free apps, but reading the reviews a lot of people seem to find difficulty finding something that works well.
I do need to say that I have not tested all of them for the purposes of this article. I do know that to create a pronunciation course that does everything it needs to take a huge amount of work and costs lots in development and most people need to earn money after that large an investment.
So my point is don’t be afraid to invest a significant amount on the accent reduction app or course course if you decide to go ahead and start improving.
Mobile Apps tend to range in price from $3 to $4 up to $100 dollars. English pronunciation courses start from about $100 up to $1000 depending on the quality of the course and the level of tailoring.
What’s the difference between an accent reduction app and an accent reduction course?
Accent reduction apps tend to manage part of the process – how to pronounce a word or listen and repeat exercises or some basic audio lessons, an accent reduction course covers the entire process from start to finish and follows a logical, sequential process. Some include audio, others a combination of video or a combination of both supported by live classes or phone / Skype support.
The main thing to consider is what you want to achieve through English pronunciation study – if you want to speak more clearly and be well understood and you’ve chosen some type of online accent reduction training to achieve your goal then the main thing is finding a quality course that’s tailored for your language background
Here are some of the features we recommend you look for when choosing an accent reduction app.
- The ability to watch video – it’s so much easier to learn when you watch how something is done
- Tailored based on your first language – seek out training that is developed
- Developed by Speech Pathologists – professionals training helping people to learn new moth positions and to speak clearly
- What tools are there to help you learn? While practicing a word or phrase can be useful, working on pronunciation and accent changes takes a range of approaches.
- Natural pronunciation – computer generated pronunciation can be unnatural and incorrect. Be aware of this.
- Check it works – so many phone versions, so many updates – make sure the functionality works!
In summary there are LOADS of accent reduction apps available with a whole range of features the pronunciation of a word, sentences, listen and compare tools and translations. Some are web based and others stored locally on your phone. The main thing is establishing what you want to achieve. Things to consider include; do you just want practice? Do you want a full training programme? Do you have web access all the time? Do you want practice in sentences or just single words. There are many, many options. The main thing is to get started as changing your English pronunciation and successful accent reduction takes time but has a huge impact on your life!