We live in a country known and celebrated for its cultural diversity. And that’s reflected in the way we speak. In fact, we each have our own, unique accent. Our accents are part of our individual identity, and can play a role in how others perceive us.
Sometimes, individuals might want to modify their accent for various reasons.
Some people feel that their accent makes it difficult to communicate effectively in social, academic, or work settings. Others may ask them to repeat themselves often and might have trouble understanding a person’s speech due to their accent.
One possible solution to these issues? Through Speech Therapy, individuals can focus on Accent Modification.
What does Speech Therapy for Accent Modification consist of? How can this service benefit those who want to change the way their speech is perceived by others? Let’s explore.
Who is a Candidate?
Our accents reflect a certain area of the country or part of the world where we grew up or have spent a lot of time. If you’d like to change your speech by modifying your accent, then Speech Therapy for Accent Modification is an effective option.
- Professionals who want to communicate more effectively at work.
- Those who avoid certain social interactions because of their accent.
- Non-native English speakers who feel their speech is difficult for others to understand.
- Actors seeking to learn to speak with a different accent to perform a certain role.
- People who want to soften a strong accent so it is not as noticeable.
Start with an Evaluation
A Speech Therapist will speak to you about your concerns and what you are hoping to change about your accent.
The Speech Therapist (also known as Speech-Language Pathologist) will also conduct an assessment to determine your current speech patterns. That includes how you articulate different sounds, and the rhythm and tone of your speech.
Following the evaluation, the Speech Therapist will provide you with recommendations for how often you will need to attend therapy sessions for accent modification. For example, one to two sessions per week for 1 hour may be recommended.
Consistent attendance in Speech Therapy is one of the keys to effectively modifying your accent. Teletherapy is a convenient and effective way to help fit weekly sessions into a busy schedule.
A Typical Speech Therapy Session
During Speech Therapy sessions, you will work on certain goals that have been set by the therapist. Those will address the concerns you’ve shared and changes you can make to your speech patterns to modify your accent.
Modifying Sound Pronunciation
You say “to-may-to”, I say “to-mah-to”.
One thing that makes our accents sound unique is the way we pronounce different consonant and vowel sounds.
Known as articulation therapy, Accent Modification in Speech Therapy involves clients learning a new way to pronounce certain sounds.
For example, it can be easy to tell if someone is from the New England region of the U.S. because people with an accent from this area often leave off the “R” sound in words. If someone with this accent wanted to modify it, the Speech Therapist might teach the client how to place the muscles in their mouth to correctly pronounce the “R” sound.
In Accent Modification, clients may be asked to practice pronouncing sounds in a different way while reading words, then sentences, and progressing up to paragraphs and conversation.
Changing Intonation, Rhythm, and Stress
Other factors that make accents distinct are characteristics like the pitches and rhythm of an individual’s speech, and the stress he or she puts on certain sounds, syllables, or words.
When working on modifying one’s accent in Speech Therapy, the client might be instructed to practice using a higher or lower pitch while saying certain words or parts of words. This can make their accent sound different.
Accent modification can also include working on putting more or less emphasis on certain syllables or words. In English, for example, we change the part of the word we stress (like the beginning “ba” in balloon) in a pretty unpredictable pattern. Other languages, such as Spanish, the part of the word to be emphasized is sometimes distinguished with an accent mark.
Frequent repetitions of sounds, words, and sentences that are part of Speech Therapy exercises during sessions and home practice can help individuals modify their accent effectively over time.
Speech Therapy for Accent Modification can help some people improve how effectively and confidently they communicate in professional, educational, and everyday life situations.
Speech Clarity/Articulation Disorders
Public Speaking Skills
Fluency and Stuttering
Executive Function Skills
Voice Disorders and Voice Therapy
TherapyWorks also offers Speech Therapy, Occupational and Physical Therapy in person (in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio). If you would like to learn more, or discuss your specific needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to TherapyWorks!