Let us be clear - accents have beautiful qualities! They showcase the fact that you speak multiple languages, or that you hail from a particular region of the country. We would never encourage suppression of one’s identity or cultural roots.
However, if you feel your accent is limiting the ability for others to understand you — both in your professional and personal life — accent reduction may be a solution. Articulation exercises can help improve your speech clarity and comfort to ensure your message is well understood without you having to repeat yourself. Accent reduction can have powerful effects for professionals, including improving your confidence when presenting, helping you network with peers more easily, and positioning you to communicate clearly.
Accent Reduction for Personal and Professional Growth
Training to adapt your accent can sound tricky at first. Fortunately, the accent you grew up with is learned and can be changed. Accent reduction training focuses on fine-tuning a dialect and improving your clarity of speech.
No matter your accent or the reason you want to change it, New York Speech Coaching can help you reduce your accent through our personalized coaching programs.
What’s in an accent?
An “accent” or “dialect” refers to the manner in which certain sounds are created/pronounced, coupled with the intonation and stress patterns of a person’s speech. An accent is usually a clue as to where the speaker was born or where the speaker has spent a great deal of time. Your native language, geographic location, and cultural background influence the way you articulate sounds while speaking. Your accent can shape the way you come across to listeners, which may or may not accurately reflect how you wish to be perceived. Some people find their ability to fully express themselves limited by their accent and seek a sound they feel is more “neutral” or clear to the listeners of the language they are speaking.
With accent modification, we will work on accent reduction or, rather, accent acquisition. You'll learn how to produce a neutral, Standard American Dialect. Don't think of this as replacing your natural accent; rather, it will be an additional skill to use to your advantage. The end goal is not to standardize your speech for the sake of homogeneity, but to equip you with the tools necessary to express yourself as you feel most comfortable.
Can’t an accent be a good thing?
Absolutely! Accents and dialects can certainly be assets. Rest assured that working on reducing your accent will not prevent you from speaking with your current accent or dialect in the future should you choose to do so.
Just as learning a new language does not prevent you from speaking in your original language, you’ll always have your original accent as an option. In addition, you will feel confident with a Standard American Dialect and be able to go back and forth between multiple ways of speaking based on your comfort level in different situations.
At New York Speech Coaching, we celebrate all accents and only seek to endow those who desire greater clarity with the tools to achieve Standard American.
Why do clients seek accent reduction?
Many clients seek accent modification in order to improve communication skills for business, public speaking, presentations, social situations, and acting.
Dialects and accents can sometimes cause limitations in these areas, as they can prevent people from being understood clearly and communicating as effectively as possible. Learning a Standard American Dialect can be beneficial in today’s professional settings where global and multilingual audiences are common.
Accent Reduction Training and Coaching
People seek to reduce their accents for a variety of reasons. Whether you're working to become a more articulate presenter or need to change your accent for a role, New York Speech Coaching offers a solution. Our accent reduction training and coaching programs work alongside clients to help them neutralize their accent, improve their speaking skills, and enhance their clarity.
If you've never worked through accent reduction training and coaching before, you may not know what to expect. We've compiled a few of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand how our lessons work, what kinds of accents we can work with, and how quickly you may see results.
How do I reduce or eliminate my accent?
The most significant factor in changing an accent is adjusting the alignment of your vocal anatomy - the jaw position, tongue position, lip position, and other physical factors. Additional steps include altering the pronunciation of specific sounds and learning the inflection (or “rhythm/cadence”) of the new accent.
We initially determine what the most glaring differences are between your current accent and the one you would like to acquire. This enables us to tailor our priorities and create a custom program for getting results that will make the largest impact straightaway. Next, we engage in conditioning drills so that you can effectively train your anatomy to achieve the new positions through practice. Finally, we work up to conversational speed and inflection.
How long does it take to change my accent?
As you might imagine, this varies. The primary factors are the disparity between your current and desired levels of proficiency, how much practicing is performed outside of lessons, and your natural affinity for this kind of work. If the accent is subtle and you are very receptive to changes, the process can be as short as a few sessions. Other times, the process is longer and can take some months. In all cases, we would love to help you to feel confident with a Standard American Dialect as quickly as possible! Changing your speaking takes patience, but once achieved, the results are there for a lifetime. Though we can better assess a timeline at the end of your first lesson, a general expectation might be:
- 4-6 hours: Basic understanding of exercises you can use to improve.
- 6-10 hours: Marked improvement. This is the stage at which most notice a difference in the ease of speaking clearly.
- 10-20 hours: Dramatic improvement. Pronunciation tends to be extremely well-executed, albeit not at a conversational speed.
- 20+ hours: We are able to incorporate speed, rhythm, and inflection as well. Many people feel very comfortable with a standard American dialect at this juncture.
Does it matter where I’m from? Do you have experience training people who speak my language?
First, yes, we likely have experience training people who share your native language. We have worked with clients from almost all continents and major languages.
Secondly, given that your end goal is to learn Standard American, your native language is less consequential. The language, or regional dialect, with which you grew up speaking may impact the specific focus of individual sessions, as it may take more time to acquire certain sounds compared to others. However, the training will teach you to produce specific sounds in a specific pattern consistent with a Standard American Dialect, regardless of your starting point. Your coach will evaluate your natural speech patterns and tailor the curriculum to best suit your needs.
What is the difference between a dialect and an accent?
Practically speaking, the two words are frequently used interchangeably. Historically, though, an “accent” refers to a speaker’s efforts at pronouncing sounds in a language that is not his or her native one. A “dialect” refers to variations in vocabulary, intonation, and ways to pronounce sounds within a single language.
For example, if a native Spanish speaker learns English, they will often pronounce English sounds with a “Spanish accent.” A dialect refers most often to variations in vocabulary and ways to pronounce sounds within a language. For example, in the United States, one might speak American English with a “Southern dialect” or a “Midwestern dialect.”
Do you teach accents/dialects aside from Standard American?
Absolutely! If you are looking to acquire a new accent, whether as an actor preparing for a role or simply for fun, we offer dialect coaching for a variety of foreign accents and regional dialects. We feel comfortable training for most dialects. If you have a question about a particularly obscure one (e.g. Northeast Kuwait circa 1650), please inquire.
Booking Private Lessons to Reduce Your Accent
Private lessons for accent reduction go beyond simply switching the particulars of your dialect. Accent reduction exercises can help you enhance your auditory discrimination and prevent miscommunication, leading to positive growth both in and out of the workplace. Our private classes for accent reduction will empower you with all the tools you need to shift your accent and develop a different one. These lessons take place one-on-one with a trained specialist who will guide you through practical accent reduction exercises and offer constructive feedback.
When you book a private lesson, you'll receive an individualized program built around your personal values and goals. Our curriculum will consider any specific obstacles you face and create a tailored syllabus with relevant exercises. Our private lesson format offers many benefits, including:
- A comfortable and supportive one-on-one environment.
- A flexible structure ideal for time-strapped professionals.
- Custom curricula that we can adapt to fit your unique situation.
- Individualized focus on your progress without the distraction of other classmates.
- Ample time for personalized feedback and goal tracking.
- Learning how to communicate effectively, opening the door to career advancement opportunities.
- Improving your public speaking and communication skills through precise enunciation and clarity.
- Specialized insight from a seasoned professional coach.
- The opportunity to build confidence in a private setting before applying your skills in public.
Accent Reduction Coaches and Experts
Training for an accent reduction takes time, effort, and precision. Fortunately, our specialists offer seasoned accent reduction coaching to help streamline your path to success. Our team of expert coaches brings years of experience and training to provide helpful guidance, constructive feedback, and the support you need to excel. Whether you want an accent reduction from British English to American English or want to master a different dialect, our coaches offer custom lessons built around your goals.
Our team draws from professional training and years of experience helping clients with accent reduction. We are one of the only firms to specialize in the health and quality of the speaking voice, a highly technical process that requires nuanced conditioning and expert guidance.
Reach out to New York Speech Coaching today to set up your first appointment. If you have any questions about our accent reduction services, please feel free to give us a call at 646-535-6785 with any questions.