I work with a number of people who, when they see me for the first time, tell me they never knew they could see a Speech Pathologist to help them with their English pronunciation. My purpose for this blog is to inform you of the process involved in improving your English pronunciation.
There are many benefits associated with improved communication skills, such as job prospects, improved confidence and reduced frustration from people not understanding you (for example, do people often ask if you said 13 or 30?). Unfortunately changing an accent takes time and practice, but the effort put into practicing is worth the effort. Accent Reduction Training will not eliminate your accent, but will help work on the areas of your speech that make it harder for people to understand you.
In your initial session, you will be asked to read a number of words and sentences, and to do some talking. Your talking will be recorded and analysed in depth by the speech pathologist. The speech pathologist will identify the areas that impact most on the clarity of your English Pronunciation. Based on the results of the analysis, you will receive an Individualised Training Plan. Training Plans are typically made to cover 12 sessions. In each session, you will work on 1 to 2 aspects of your speech in depth (for example, the “th” sound and Word Stress patterns). Each area we work on will have been identified as a difficult area in your initial assessment. The speech pathologist will give you specific feedback about what to do to improve (something that can be difficult to get from a book or App!). Following each session, you will be given a home practicing recording. It is best to put aside 10-15 minutes every day to go over the recording to make sure you see improvements. It is best to find a time in your everyday routine. For example, a number of people like to do it while driving to work in their car. It is more beneficial to do a small amount of practice every day as opposed to 1 hour of practice once a week.
Sessions can be held weekly or fortnightly or at a frequency that suits you and your lifestyle. I find, however, that individuals who attend sessions weekly or fortnightly make greater progress, as they tend to practice more regularly and stay motivated between sessions. And for those of you who like to share experiences with others, there is an option to attend sessions with a friend from the same international background.
To give you an example, here are some areas that are typically covered in sessions:
- Speech sounds (vowels, diphthongs and consonants)
- Difficult sound combinations (e.g. Do you find it hard to say “ths” in cloths or “lk” in milk?)
- The fluency of your speech
- Word and Sentence Stress
- Mouth position for English
- Speech Rate
- International Phonetic Alphabet
After the 12 training sessions are completed, you will be given a 3-4 month consolidation break. After attending the training sessions, you will now be aware of the different aspects of your speech that require work. The 3-4 month break gives you time to consolidate all you have learnt, so you can transfer your skills to your every day talking. If you would like to receive additional training, you can attend another block of training after the consolidation break. The second block of training is generally more for review, and shorter in duration than 12 sessions.
If you have any other questions, or if you feel Accent Reduction Training is for you, please feel free to email or call me using the details elsewhere on this website. I’d love the opportunity to work with you to improve the clarity of your English pronunciation!