Do other people often need to ask you to repeat yourself because you have a strong accent?
Have you ever wondered if people are excluding you because they have difficulty understanding you?
If you can relate to these statements, accent modification treatment can help.
At District Speech, we can help you learn to modify your accent so you can be better understood, gain confidence, and not feel as though you’re missing out on opportunities.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation and myths surrounding accent modification speech therapy.
One of them is how it works.
Let’s take a closer look at the process.
What Is Accent Modification?
Accent modification is the process of changing your accent, by working on facets of speech such as intonation, pronunciation, the rhythm of speech and pronunciation.
Generally speaking, the goal of accent modification is to learn the local accent.
Those who seek a Washington DC speech therapist for accent reduction, for example, want to learn to speak like someone who grew up here in Washington DC.
However, sometimes it can be used to learn another accent altogether, such as when actors learn a new accent for a role.
Everyone has an accent, no matter where they’re from, and modifying your accent is just that – modifying it.
The only way to eliminate your accent completely is to never speak a single word ever again – and most of us don’t want to do that.
Is Accent Modification And Accent Reduction The Same Thing?
Yes and no.
Both of these terms refer to the same treatment, but speech therapists don’t like the term “accent reduction”.
It has to do with what we consider to be an accent.
Once upon a time, we considered the neutral North American accent to be the “default” way to speak, and anyone who spoke any differently had an accent.
So treatment was about “reducing” your accent to more closely match the default.
However, this isn’t how speech therapists look at it anymore.
The truth is that no matter where you’re from, you have an accent.
A neutral North American accent may not be as immediately discernable as somebody who comes from Ireland or Australia or for whom English is their second language, such as native Spanish speakers, but it’s still an accent.
So we’re not “reducing” anybody’s accent, we’re modifying it.
If you have a heavy accent which makes it difficult for you to communicate, we can work with you to modify that accent.
But we can’t reduce it, because that’s just not how language works.
That may seem like an issue of semantics, but hey, we are language professionals after all.
Why Modify Your Accent?
Many people are proud of their accents.
It’s a sign of where you came from, something distinct by which others can identify you.
The truth is, there’s no reason anyone should have to change their accent.
If you like your accent, keep it!
However, some people do choose to modify their accent, and there are a few different reasons that are commonly cited.
Let’s have a look at some of these reasons.
1. To Improve Self Confidence
You might have brilliant ideas, but a big factor in how those ideas will be received by others is how they’re presented.
Constantly being asked to repeat yourself can start to impact your confidence, and perhaps make you doubt your ideas and opinions.
Accent modification may help to restore your confidence that when you speak you are actually being listened to.
In fact, research points to accent modification as a contributor to workplace confidence.
2. To Be Better Understood
In many careers, the ability to communicate effectively is extremely important.
If you have a heavy accent, it can make it difficult for people to properly understand you, no matter how well they are listening.
This is especially true if you’re communicating more via phone or video calls where poor connections can exacerbate these issues.
Accent modification can help you to prevent having to constantly repeat yourself and prevent misunderstandings.
This is why, in particular, adult speech therapy services frequently cater to accent modification – children tend to be a little more forgiving, and better able to assimilate to their new surroundings.
3. To Feel More Like An American
When you’re in a new environment, you often feel like an outsider.
This can be quite isolating, and even frightening.
If every time you speak you’re reminded of the fact you’re from somewhere else, learning to speak like the locals can help you feel like you belong.
Studies show that accent modification can help bolster a sense of identity.
4. To Improve Your Pronunciation
One of the factors that make up your accent is how you pronounce words.
Often when learning English as a second language, people don’t have good quality pronunciation training.
When an accent is strong, this can result in some sounds being difficult to comprehend.
Accent modification training can help you learn to pronounce words in a manner more like those who have been speaking English their whole lives.
5. If You’re An Actor Preparing For A Role
Have you ever heard an actor doing an interview and been shocked to learn their actual accent is different from the accent they use in the role they’re best known for?
Or seen actors play different roles, changing accents depending on the role?
The fact is, actors undergo accent modification regularly to prepare for roles.
Being able to speak in a variety of accents can open up different roles for you as an actor.
What Are Some Realistic And Attainable Goals For Accent Modification?
Everyone who chooses to undergo accent modification will have their own reasons for doing so.
The reality is, it’s incredibly difficult to get an accent so perfect nobody will ever be able to tell where you were from.
Actors occasionally do, yes.
I was surprised the first time I heard Hugh Jackman speak in interviews, for example.
But actors have two things you don’t.
First of all, actors have dedicated professional vocal coaches who spend several hours a day with them learning an accent.
Second, they’re working from a script – it’s a lot easier to learn to speak with a flawless accent when you’re repeating the same lines of dialog over and over again.
When it comes to natural speech, it’s just not the same as acting.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get great results from accent modification.
Here are some common and realistic goals:
- Being asked to repeat yourself less often
- To master proper pronunciation of words, especially those which might be tricky
- For your speech to sound more like someone who has lived here their entire life
- Increased confidence while speaking, which can help others take you more seriously at work and in life
- Improving your communication skills
And, of course, practice is key.
These goals are even more attainable when you dedicate the time to practice your new voice techniques.
Book An Appointment With District Speech
Are you looking to modify your accent?
Do you feel self conscious because you’re constantly being asked to repeat yourself?
Have you ever wondered if you’ve been passed over for a job or promotion, because of the way you speak?
District Speech can help.
We even offer speech teletherapy from the comfort of your own home, as well as in person sessions.
Book your appointment with District Speech today to find out how we can help you transform your accent.
1300 I St NW, #400E,
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.