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Accent Modification

Convenient & Effective Speech Therapy

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What is an accent?

An accent is something everyone has, sometimes without realizing it. It is a unique way in which certain people may speak. There are two types of accents:

  • Regional Accent: A regional accent is typically considered to be an accent shared or differentiated between and among people within the same country, state, or geographical region. For example, an individual from New York might speak differently than an individual from Louisiana, despite the two states being within the same country.

  • National Origin Accent: A national origin accent is different from a regional accent, in that that a national original accent doesn’t typically originate within the same area. English from an individual in the United States of America will sound differently than English from an individual that lives in Australia, despite both being the same language. The same goes for an individual from Australia speaking Spanish versus an individual from Spain speaking Spanish, as it applies to all languages.

Accent Modification


Why do people choose to change their accent?

There are a variety of reasons as to why someone might want to change their accent. These reasons can range from professional reasons to personal reasons, depending on the individual and their personal preferences, and might include:

  • Difficulty being understood and having to repeat oneself often.

  • Possible public speaking in the workplace, depending on the career.

  • The need to communicate effectively in the workplace or with loved ones.

  • Lack of attention on what is being said, and more so, attention is being placed on the accent.

  • Negative views from listeners on one’s accent.

It is important to note that speech and language services geared towards accents are considered to be voluntary. An individual with an accent is not considered to have a speech disorder by any means, and it is instead considered to be a speech difference. Therefore, the services being provided are not always approached from the standpoint of treating a ‘disorder’.


How can speech therapy help reduce or modify accents?

Speech therapy can assist in modifying or reducing an accent, oftentimes, through the lens of a native speaker. It can be difficult for a non-native speaker to identify which speech sounds are being produced differently and how they need to be produced to sound more native to the language. They may also have difficulty figuring out how to even produce said speech sounds differently, considering how the articulators need to be altered. A speech-language pathologist can assist in:

  • Learning how to place the articulators in order to produce certain speech sounds.

  • Learning how certain speech sounds are different between languages.

  • Identifying how someone is producing sounds in a native language versus a new language.

In many cases, an accent cannot disappear completely. At least not after only a few sessions. But speech therapy can help identify where the areas of differences are and assist in sounding more like a native English speaker.


How does a speech therapist evaluate your accent?

Despite an accent being considered a speech ‘difference’ rather than a speech ‘disorder’, a speech-language pathologist might evaluate the accent similarly to how they would evaluate a speech disorder. However, the diagnosis would not be the same. The speech-language pathologist might follow steps similar to these:

  • Gathering background information. The speech-language pathologist might ask an individual what their first language is, how old they were when they began speaking the language they wish to speak more proficiently in (in this case, English), and if they speak any other languages. This can give the speech therapist insight into what speech sounds to look for.

  • Evaluation. A speech-language pathologist might utilize a speech evaluation geared specifically towards accents that is normative to a typical English accent. This will assist the speech-language pathologist in narrowing down which speech sounds are more prominently spoken differently by the individual in comparison to the English pronunciation, in order to set goals for therapy. An evaluation might look at sound production, rhythm/intonation, conversational speech, intelligibility, daily life impact, etc.



What does accent modification look like?

Accent modification looks different for every individual that is seeking out speech and language services in order to diminish their accent. However, some common accent modification strategies include:

  • Imitation: The individual is asked to listen to the therapist’s production of certain speech sounds and then imitate this production.

  • Phoneme Recognition: This is utilized to train the individual to recognize certain speech sounds that are different in their native language, and to produce said speech sounds in the target language.

  • Visualization: For some individuals in speech therapy, visualizing how the speech sounds are produced by the articulators is very helpful.

  • Recordings: Recording how one speaks and listening back to the production can assist individuals in recognizing which sounds they are not producing correctly.

  • Production Drill/Practice: A speech therapist might choose particular words, phrases, or sentences for an individual to drill in order to practice certain speech sounds.

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