Imagine someone learning your native language and trying to speak it. They are consistently pronouncing things differently from what you expect. You are probably trying your best to understand them, but it’s taking a lot of effort. The sound rules of a person's first language can affect how they speak a secondary language more than they realize.
Commonly known as accent reduction, accent modification is the systematic change to your accent to help improve the clarity of speech. Everyone has an accent, whether it's a foreign accent (the accent you have when that language is not your native language) or a native accent (the accent you have when you're a native speaker of a language). An accent is most definitely not a reflection of a person’s intelligence or proficiency with English. However, adults choose to undergo accent modification with the guidance of a Speech-Language Pathologist to improve the clarity of their speech and make their accent less apparent because they often feel it impacts them on a professional and personal level.
We typically think of foreign accents when we think of "accents." If English is not your native language or you grew up in an environment with "accented" English speakers, you may have a foreign accent now, even if you think you don't have an accent. You may also have grown up in a region that has a significant dialect. Using the same sound system and pronouncing words similarly to the people around you is integral to achieving language fluency. There are sounds in English that are not used in other languages, and you may not even realize that certain sounds are different.
Having an accent is not necessarily a bad thing. An accent can be a part of your cultural identity and shows that you know another language. However, if your accent impacts your confidence and/or how well others can understand you, accent modification can help.
We use cues from all aspects of speech to help us communicate words and sentences, highlight important information, convey emotion, and appear confident. To help your learn about these aspects of English, our Speech-Language Pathologists can help you with the following:
● Speech sounds - the consonant and vowel sounds of a language
● Speech sound patterns - how speech sounds interact in different contexts can make a person sound more like a native speaker.
● Stress patterns/intonation - how you vary the loudness and pitch of syllables in a sentence
● Resonance - how "nasal" you sound, or how much sound is travelling through the nose and mouth
It can be challenging to recognize how your speech differs from a native speaker and changing it is even more difficult. Improve your communication skills and further your personal development by booking an accent assessment today!