What is an Accent?
There are various definitions of what an “accent” really is. In one sense, everyone has an accent! That is because we all pronounce our speech in a specific way based on our regional and social groups. In another sense, an “accent” is something that demonstrates the many small differences in pronunciation between native and nonnative speakers of a language. Remember that accents are differences- not disorders! However, accents are easily detectable and can have a big impact on both vocational and social life. Accent modification services are available for nonnative speakers of English who would like to improve the naturalness and effectiveness of their communication in English.
What is Accent Modification?
Accent modification is an elective service for adults who want to change the way that they communicate. Other terms for accent modification include accent reduction, intelligibility enhancement, and pronunciation instruction. Rather than simply “getting rid of” an accent, the goal of accent modification is to increase the effectiveness, intelligibility, and naturalness of one’s communication for their context of choice. For example, employees working at a call center may want to speak English with a Midwestern American English accent if the majority of their clients are based in the American Midwest, but may want to switch back to their original accent when speaking English with friends or family members at home. With accent modification services, individuals learn the tools to master their speech pronunciation for effective communication across various contexts.
What is the SLP’s role in providing Accent Modification services?
While teachers, ESL tutors, and other individuals can provide accent modification services, speech-language pathologists are especially qualified for this task! That is because speech-language pathologists are the experts when it comes to analyzing and eliciting speech sounds as well as the supra-segmental aspects of spoken language (e.g., stress, tone, prosody) which affect the naturalness of one’s speech. Because speech pathologists are qualified to diagnose and treat speech, language and swallowing disorders, they have rigorous training in addressing all of the structures, functions and mechanisms of communication.