Accent Modification is Like Laying a Foundation
Exploring accent modification is much like laying the foundation for a new home.
Before you pour the foundation, you must first consider all the variables: type of soil, style of home to be built, materials, and more. Then you must follow the steps necessary to lay the foundation, to ensure a solid base.
Similarly, to consider modifying your accent, you also need to examine the variables.
For example, Do others have difficulty understanding your speech? Does your vocal quality or loudness interfere with communication? Would improving your speaking skills enhance your career opportunities?
The process of accent modification involves a step by step approach. First, you have to identify the sound patterns you’re using and compare them to Standard English.
Next, you need to acquire the skills necessary to make changes to your existing speech patterns and form new speech habits.
And finally, you learn to produce those sounds in words, phrases, sentences, and everyday conversation.
The “General Contractor” for Accent Modification
The average person probably would not consider laying a new home foundation on her own. She would rely on the experience and expertise of a professional, to be certain her new home has a solid base.
The same is true for accent modification. A certified speech-language pathologist (the “general contractor” of your program) will provide you with the strategies to develop effective listening and discrimination skills and provide techniques to facilitate sound pronunciation and speech changes.
In an accent modification program, you’ll start with a speech analysis, which examines your speech and identifies the changes in sounds and speech patterns (including rate, volume, stress, and intonation) you’ll need to make to improve your speech intelligibility. (After all, it’s hard to change something if you don’t know what it is you want to change.)
Next you’ll learn to develop listening and discrimination skills. You need to be able to hear the difference between the sounds you are currently using and the sounds you want to be using. As you move through an accent modification program, you will become more aware of your own speech and the speech of those around you.
Once you are successful with this, you can being to produce the sounds and speech patterns in words and sentences, until finally you are able to transfer these new skills into daily conversation.
We say, “Practice makes perfect,” but instead we should say, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” If you learn or practice something incorrectly, you’re merely developing a bad habit. Through guided practice, your speech coach will make sure you stay on the right track.
Be aware, new speech habits take time to develop. Accent modification programs range from two to four months, or longer, depending on the needs of the individual.
But people who practice daily will see improvement, and with a strong foundation of fundamental skills, will continue to develop their speaking skills.
Now you have built a solid foundation for communication!
Welcome to the neighborhood!