What is an accent?
People learn the sound system of their native language. When they have to learn a new language or dialect of the same language, they “interpret” those sounds through the sound system they know… that of their native language. Because there are different sounds and rules for sounds, intonation, and rhythm patterns in various languages, the interpretations are not always on target. The difference between the actual Standard American English sounds and these productions result in an “accent.”
A foreign accent occurs when English is learned as a second language–resulting in Chinese accents, Indian Accents, Russian accents, etc. A regional accent occurs when people acquire the speech pattern typical of the part of America in which they grew up—resulting in New York accents, Long Island accents, Boston or Southern accents etc. Others learned English as their native language but in a “dialect” different than American English (British, Australian, Caribbean, etc).
Why can accents be a challenge in the workplace?
Accents are a unique phenomenon, as it demonstrates the blending of one’s original culture with a new one. But it is also true that strong foreign and even regional accents can make it difficult for others to understand–undermining the benefits of a diverse, global workplace.
Accents that are difficult to understand inhibit the professional’s ability to perform as productively as possible and to achieve their career potential. Regional accents will often stereotype or typecast the speaker, narrowing his range of opportunities.
From the company’s point of view, accents can also limit the potential of the company to communicate their excellence to their target market, resulting in decreased sales or contracts.
Reducing the communication “static” that can occur when people who are non-native speakers of American English, or American-born personnel that do not speak Standard American English, benefits both the professional and the company they work for.
My goal is not to eliminate accents, or “lose accents” but to improve the clarity of the “message.” For some, that means to simply modify their accents, or reduce their accents to be better understood. Others aim to speak with American English pronunciation as close to standard American English as possible. In either case, trainees will noticeably change their pronunciation, stress, and intonation patterns. They achieve increased awareness of English language grammar and usage as well. They also gain the ability to monitor the effectiveness of their communication.
The hallmark of CLK Speech is the customization of programs to meet the needs of the company or individual desiring better speech. Let me assess your needs and come up with creative solutions that are designed with YOUR needs in mind.
Basic Custom Programs Include
- Assessment of Speech Sound Differences
- Training of pronunciation of interfering sounds
- Basic training in stress and prosody
- Training idioms and expressions
Focused Solutions for Accent Modification
- Troublesome Sounds
- Focus on Intonation
- Standard American English Grammar
- American English Pronunciation with Idioms and American Expressions
- All About “R”
- All About Vowels
- All About Voicing
- Accent Reduction “LITE” (for those with light accents or a few sound difficulties)