Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is involved in changing my accent?
Accent Modification classes teach the aspects of English that are typically left out of other English as a Second Language courses-pronunciation of the individual sounds and intonation patterns of the English Language. Topics include the study of consonants and vowel sounds, stress, rhythm, intonation, pausing, and linking that are used in everyday conversational speech. Motivation, dedication and consistent, daily practice are needed to experience long-term improvement.
Accent modification is as much about unlearning old speech habits as forming new speech patterns. Changing your accent involves first learning to hear the sounds and rhythms of North American English. Next, you learn the new speech production patterns and movements necessary in order to produce them. At first, these new patterns will feel strange and unnatural, but over time and with consistent practice, they will become more natural and eventually become an automatic way of speaking English for you. You will experience increased clarity of speech and confidence with your practice. Changing your accent results in changing the image you present to others. You must feel comfortable with this change. We guide you by providing the tools and training necessary to achieve these changes. The rest is up to you.
What are the advantages of taking the course from a certified Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP)?
Using a regulated practitioner is your assurance of professional and ethical treatment and training. SLPs are required to maintain high standards of care, assuring that clients will receive effective, quality service.
Accent modification coursework requires expertise and expands beyond what ESL instruction alone can offer. SLPs understand the interaction between the neurology, anatomy and physiology behind the methodology of accent training with other areas language such as phonology/phonetics, acoustics, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics. They possess in-depth knowledge of how to conduct speech and language assessments, how to deliver a customized training program, provide custom feedback and how to facilitate the generalization and carry-over of skills learned in the language classroom to real-life speaking situations. In addition, SLPs are trained to think in measurable terms and are expert LISTENTERS!
Why is English Pronunciation so difficult to learn?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the English language is that words are not pronounced the same way that they are spelled. English is NOT a phonetic language like many languages of the world. The same letter may be pronounced in several different ways in English. To make things even more challenging, non-native speakers need to learn how to produce sounds that do not occur in their native language. This feels unnatural and strange at first, but becomes more natural the more you put the muscles through those new positions and movements. In addition, the ear needs to be trained to recognize new sounds found in English that do not exist in the native language.
Does Accent Modification really work?
Yes, when you work with a qualified trainer using interactive tools and techniques with real-world application. Improvements will be made if you are motivated to practice and accept the expert feedback provided. Speech is a motor skill or ‘habit pattern’ that develops over time. Once your brain recognizes the differences between your accented pronunciation and the new pronunciation, it will automatically begin to make adjustments to enable you to hear and speak in the second language. This self-awareness is critical to your success. If you are committed, participate actively in your customized training program and complete the assigned training tasks, you will notice improvements. ACE will teach you how to pay attention not only to what you say, but HOW you say it in English.
Will my foreign accent be eliminated completely?
Not typically. It is often not realistic or necessary to eliminate your foreign accent. The goal of accent modification training is to provide you with the personal insight and tools necessary to acquire a new speaking pattern that is clear, confident and understandable to a variety of listeners.
Are results measurable?
An assessment of accented speech is performed prior to the start of any program and again at the end. It is analyzed to show the extent of the client’s improvement. Assessment of listening and speaking skills is ongoing as the participant uses ACE’s interactive practice tool. Progress reports are available for students/employees at the conclusion of each course showing percentage of improvement. Past comparisons have shown that clients who attend all of the assigned sessions and complete the recommended practice activities, can expect to achieve at least a 50% change in their accented speech.
How long does it take to correct my accent?
The reality is that it varies from individual to individual. If the accent is subtle and the client is highly motivated and receptive to change, the process can be as short as just a few sessions. Other times, the process will certainly be longer and can take many months. Factors such as the urgency of change, amount of practice, type of motivation, and how different the client’s native language is from English all make a difference. We would welcome the opportunity to guide you through your individual journey towards improved comprehension and production of the English language.
How much do I really have to practice?
In order to achieve at least 50-60% improvement in you ability to make yourself understood when you speak English, it is recommended that you dedicate at least one hour per day to independent practice. While this may seem intimidating or unrealistic initially, keep in mind that practice time includes both time spent participating in assigned activities and assignments and also ‘real-life’ practice throughout your day as you interact with native English speakers. Because of this, our clients typically have no problem meeting the 1 hour per day of recommended use and practice in English. We recommend spreading your practice time out throughout the day rather than attempting to complete it in a single session.
Will people be offended if I offer them accent modification training?
Our experience has been that non-native English Speakers welcome the opportunity to build effective communication skills and are willing to invest in themselves. We emphasize reducing language and communication barriers while helping maintain the client’s cultural identity.
Will my employer pay for this course?
Companies and organizations often see the benefits of improving their foreign-born employees’ communication skills. Consider requesting the use of Professional Development funds (you may choose to mention Soft Skills training under the categories of Diversity and Inclusion and/or Talent Management) for Accent Modification. We would be happy to speak to your employer on your behalf.
Why aren’t your prices listed?
ACE is proud to offer customized programs and solutions based on the individual client’s or company’s needs. Each training program is tailor-made to meet the varied language needs of our clients and can be modified to accommodate your time and location requirements. This makes it difficult for us to list a flat rate for our services. Rest assured however, that our prices are competitive and be aware that we do offer special promotions and discounts. Our fees are often funded through employer continuing education and training budgets. Please contact us for more information.