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Accent Reduction Techniques -- You Speak, i-Speak

Christine O'Kelly
Aug 10, 2008
With the economy as it is job-hunters and foreign immigrants alike are doing everything they can to land that dream job. One potential disadvantage that foreign immigrants to America have to face is an inhibiting thick accent. Thick accents can hinder vital communication between clients, employers, and even other employees. More alarmingly, it can totally rule out entire professions such as call center customer support work.

Methods of accent reduction are now widespread across America. There are many methods to choose from and they can either be done in the privacy of the home, with a professional speech therapist, or sometimes even in group classes.

Modern Day Language

In this technological age, there are many courses that incorporate speech software into their lessons. This speech software commonly has either just audio content or, more effectively, audio and visual content.

The more effective audiovisual programs are often presented by a qualified speech professional. This may be a speech pathologist or a vocal coach. The accent reduction lessons are usually first demonstrated by the professional. The professional would demonstrate speech elements such as tongue position, mouth position, voice, volume and other important features. They would then proceed to explain the various differences, reasons behind the element, and any common mistakes or difficulties people make. This demonstration would be for a single letter or sound.

Seeing a professional demonstrate and then explain each letter or sound aids learning significantly. Like children, a lot of how we learn is watching other people perform the task correctly. Having the task broken down into its parts also simplifies the learning process.

Often there is a specific section on the intonation of the American language, including linking, and letter stress points. This is important for natural, fluid sounding American speech, as it can vary greatly from other languages.

i-Speak -- Incorporating the Internet

There are some professionals, and at-home speech software programs, which incorporate the Internet into their accent reduction techniques. This may sound scary or too complicated, but it has proven to be a very effective method of accent reduction.

Typically, accent reduction speech software that incorporates the Internet will use it to record, playback and share practice sessions. Users of such software log in to a private section of the software vendor's website. This firstly creates a safe, anonymous environment for the accent reduction participant to practice, and secondly allows the participant to view themselves practicing the speech techniques.

Being able to view a recording of a practice session can be viewed as a high-tech version of practicing in front of the mirror. The only difference is that the participant can concentrate on watching for slip ups or things done well without worrying about producing the sound. This has been proven to aid a participant's accent reduction progress significantly.

Positive Feedback

An added element of the internet based speech software is best utilized by professional speech therapists. Using the software, speech therapists can allow their clients to record and then share the recording with the therapist for valuable feedback. This means that clients have more productive practice sessions as the therapist can quickly adjust any errors before the next face-to-face session.
About the Author
Christine O'Kelly is an author for SureSpeak, a leading provider of interactive online speech software solutions used by people wishing to improve their communication skills or master accent reduction techniques.
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