Debunking The Myths About Accent Modification Speech Therapy

Debunking The Myths About Accent Modification Speech Therapy | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Arlington VA

We live in a society with people from all over the world, so we have all been exposed to different accents one way or another.

However, in some cases an accent can cause difficulty with being understood, causing frustration.

This is one of the reasons why some people make the decision to modify their pronunciation with accent modification speech therapy sessions.

This is an adult speech therapy service we offer here at District Speech.

There are also many misconceptions about accent modification speech therapy.

The goal of this article is to address them, so please keep reading, we might have the answers you’re looking for.

MYTH: The Goal Of Accent Modification Is To Sound Like A Native Speaker

Some will enter into accent modification speech therapy with the idea of sounding exactly like a native English speaker.

This, however, is a common misconception that just isn’t true.

Why it’s False

The true goal of accent modification speech therapy is to improve your ability to communication with other people.

Accent modification is just one of many speech therapy treatments.

Speech disorders, such as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), may require different approaches to help individuals communicate effectively.

However, accent modification is not a “speech disorder.”

Rather, it’s a reality of having been born in one part of the world, and then living in another.

This is especially beneficial if your career involves extensive speaking.

Many actors have also benefited from accent modification training, so they can play foreign characters.

Accent modification is highly advantageous in career fields where clear, effective communication is essential.

Professionals in client facing roles, such as sales, marketing, and customer support, often engage directly with clients.

Anywhere clear communication can influence client trust and outcomes.

Healthcare professionals must communicate effectively with patients and colleagues to provide accurate care.

Corporate leaders may benefit from accent modification to lead teams, deliver presentations, and negotiate.

Educators and trainers, especially those working with diverse student populations or in international settings, need to be understood clearly to facilitate learning.

Accent modification training can lead to increased job opportunities, career advancement, and improved professional relationships by enhancing clarity, confidence, and audience connection.

Accent modification speech therapy is not meant to “erase” your accent, but to provide you with the skills to convey ideas to other people in a manner that’s easy for locals to understand.

And with the convenience of modern technology, you can even receive accent modification therapy online from the comfort of your own home.

If you’re wondering how that works, check out our frequently asked questions about virtual speech therapy sessions.

RELATED: What to Expect From Accent Modification

MYTH: Not Everybody Has An Accent

There are people living in every corner of the world, in places with different languages and cultures, so it’s impossible for everyone to have the same accent.

However, some people think their native accent is “normal”, and everybody else has an accent.

This is false.

Why It’s False

An accent is simply the way you pronounce words, and this depends on the region you come from, so basically everyone who speaks a language has an accent.

In fact, even sign language users have variations that are considered equivalent to accents.

When people think their accent is “normal,” it’s because they’re used to hearing other people with the same accent.

However, what’s normal in one area is different from others.

There are many misconceptions about accents, so a quick way to gain perspective on the matter is realizing that even people born in the same country have different accents.

Compare the accent of someone born here in DC, for example, with someone from rural Alabama, and you’ll see what I mean!

RELATED: What Makes Your Speech Sound The Way It Does?

MYTH: Accent Modification Is Cultural Assimilation

Accents are normal and they are part of your speech, so it’s understandable that they are also connected to your identity and culture.

However, this myth can only really come from the idea that accent modification is the same as erasing your accent, which is just not true.

Why it’s False

Accent modification is not used to force anyone to fit into a society.

In fact, accents can change naturally when you don’t speak in your native language for a long period of time.

However, they never truly disappear.

As previously mentioned, accent modification exists to train your pronunciation in order to make it easier for others to understand you, without losing your culture and heritage.

These myths about accent modification are addressed by Speech-Language Pathologist Cindy Jansen.

She emphasizes that the goal is effective communication, not mastery of an idealized accent, and that modifying your accent doesn’t compromise your cultural identity.

MYTH: If You Have An Accent, It’s Your Fault

You will most likely encounter many people who believe you can change your accent easily or that you’re not putting enough effort to change it.

However, accents are not a problem that needs to be fixed.

Why it’s False

Accents happen naturally.

In most cases, you can only get the accent of a native speaker if you started getting immersed in their language before you were 6 years old, so it’s no one’s fault.

In fact, the process of language acquisition begins at a very young age.

If you’re curious about the fascinating ways babies learn language, we wrote an article on that already.

As well, it’s important to note that accents only become a problem when they cause issues with communicating.

If the people around you can understand you, you don’t need accent modification.

Essentially, your accent is not a problem until it is a problem.

However, if you’re experiencing difficulty with speech due to other reasons, such as acquired apraxia of speech, accent modification may be just one part of a more comprehensive speech therapy treatment plan.

So How Does Accent Modification Speech Therapy Work | District Speech & Language Therapy | Washington D.C. & Arlington VA

So How Does Accent Modification Speech Therapy Work?

If you have now decided to modify your accent, you are probably wondering how it all works.

First, make sure you have the right reasons for it and remember that people decide to improve their accents for a variety of reasons.

Some of the most common reasons to get accent modification speech therapy include:

  • To be able to communicate with DC natives more clearly
  • To make it easier to get used to your surroundings if you’re new to the DC area
  • To improve your self confidence
  • To get an advantage in the workplace, especially if you work in a speech heavy field

The next step is to call District Speech, a speech therapy clinic, to book an appointment.

During your first appointment, you can expect your speech therapist to:

  • Ask you about your goals in regards to accent modification treatment
  • Ask about your speech history, including any speech disorders you may have, like cleft lip or cleft palate that can affect speech development or an orofacial myofunctional disorder impacting tongue and lip movement
  • Review your speech patterns to locate areas for improvement

During your initial assessment, your speech therapist may check for issues like a tongue tie restricting movement and develop a treatment plan addressing all needs.

From there, your speech therapist will put together a personalized treatment plan designed to meet your goals and your needs.

Accent modification therapy may involve exercises that target specific aspects of speech production, such as the way you use your larynx (voice box) to create sounds.

If you’re a Spanish speaker looking to modify your accent, check out our accent modification tips specifically tailored for Spanish speakers.

Depending on your specific needs, your speech therapist may incorporate techniques used in the treatment of other speech disorders.

This can include exercises to reduce hypernasality and improve resonance, to help you achieve your goals.

Book Your Appointment With District Speech Today

Did you find your question answered here?

Are you curious about accent modification speech therapy?

Either way, we can help.

Contact District Speech today to book your accent modification appointment.

District Speech and Language Therapy
1300 I St NW, Suite 400 E,
Washington, DC 20005


District Speech and Language Therapy specializes in speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy solutions, for both children and adults, in the Washington D.C and the Arlington Virginia areas.