When some people hear about accent modification training, also referred to as accent reduction, they assume it will completely eliminate their accent. This is not the case. Everyone has an accent. Whether it’s regional, like a southern U.S. “y’all,” or posh, like the Queen of England, all English speakers have an English dialect of one variation or another.
Merriam-Webster defines dialect as “a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language…” No matter who you are, or where you’re from, people from other regions will hear an accent when you speak. Even Brian Williams from the NBC Nightly News has an accent if he speaks to someone at the concession stand at the Kentucky Speedway.
I, personally, wouldn’t have it any other way. I love accents of all kinds. Would Robert De Niro be Robert De Niro without that memorable New York accent? Would Sofia Vergara of “Modern Family” be as vivacious without her Latin American accent? In many cases, accents help define a person.
I appreciate the variety and diversity accents give to the English language and I respect how much people take pride in their particular regional dialect. I think it’s a large part of what makes different cultures unique and interesting.
What happens when an accent is so thick that it interferes with being understood by those around you on a regular basis? What if those people are your employers, colleagues, clients or patients? This is when accent modification training can play an essential role in your daily life and career success.
Accent modification training first identifies specific components of a person’s speech that interfere most with general intelligibility. Next, techniques that correct errors in pronunciation, rhythm and intonation are taught so a person develops new speech habits. These speech habits will help turn a heavy accent into a more understandable one.
After accent modification training, people always have the option of speaking in their original accent. They just learned new techniques to speak in a more neutral accent when being understood is most critical.