In The News

Professionals Turn to Accent Reduction Classes

Published By: 
NBC 6
Published Date: 
2017, March 16
Article Excerpt: 

Some people who speak with accents turn to classes to reduce it in hopes of professional growth.

Immigrants Take Accent-Reduction Class in Portland

Published By: 
Press Herald
Published Date: 
2016, February 29
Article Excerpt: 

As they continued the lesson, Greenlaw pointed out that it’s not just an accent that can throw a listener off. Sometimes a mispronounced word means something else entirely, further baffling a listener.

“When you mispronounce words it can sound like nonsense,” she told them. “If you say ‘I woke’ somewhere instead of ‘I walk,’ or say ‘toke’ instead of ‘talk,’ it can sound like another word.”

Should You Ditch Your Accent?

Published By: 
BBC
Published Date: 
2015, June 30
Article Excerpt: 

After 15 hours of one-on-one coaching, Eloi, who lives in North Carolina, in the US, says he’s now aware of the mistakes he makes in English when speaking. As a result of the course, he now slows down his speech, clearly enunciates vowels and keeps his desk computer covered with sticky note reminders to incorporate what he’s learned during the course.

“There are small things that you don’t know [about your speaking skills] until you talk to someone,” said Eloi, whose firm covered the cost for training. “Now I’m really conscious of it.”

What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Lose An Accent

Published By: 
Wired
Published Date: 
2014, September 30
Article Excerpt: 

“You start learning language by picking up sounds, trying to imitate your parents,” explained Eric Baković, a linguist who studies sound patterns in language at UC San Diego, but was unaffiliated with either study. “Then, your brain gets busy doing other things and assumes you have learned all the sounds you need to learn to communicate with the people around you.” This library of sounds enables us to communicate fluently and stay abreast of the language as it evolves (language sounds are constantly changing, think of the vocal fry that’s recently crept into American English), but makes us effectively deaf to sounds that fall outside it, says Baković.

Why Do Some People Have an Accent?

Published By: 
Betty Birner
Published Date: 
2011, February 1
Article Excerpt: 

There are two different kinds of accents. One is a 'foreign' accent; this occurs when a person speaks one language using some of the rules or sounds of another one. For example, if a person has trouble pronouncing some of the sounds of a second language they're learning, they may substitute similar sounds that occur in their first language. This sounds wrong, or 'foreign', to native speakers of the language.

The other kind of accent is simply the way a group of people speak their native language. This is determined by where they live and what social groups they belong to. People who live in close contact grow to share a way of speaking, or accent, which will differ from the way other groups in other places speak.

Imitation the Quickest Way to Grasp a Foreign Accent

Published By: 
Health Day
Published Date: 
2010, December 8
Article Excerpt: 

Study found copying speech of speaker boosted comprehension.

If you have trouble understanding people with regional or foreign accents, imitating their accent may help you understand what they're saying, a new study suggests.

Unlearning to Tawk Like a New Yorker

Published By: 
The New York Times
Published Date: 
2010, November 19
Article Excerpt: 

“I have seen a notable rise in the number of self-referred corporate execs who are trying to retain their competitive edge within their corporations, be clearly understood by customers or clients who typecast or stigmatize them by their speech patterns,” Mr. Chwat said.

Those who seek professional help to conquer their accents make similar complaints, like, “ ‘People don’t understand what I’m saying,’ ” said Sam Chwat, who is considered the dean of speech therapists. “ ‘I’m stigmatized by the way I speak.’ ‘I’m tired of people imitating or ridiculing the way I speak, or saying I sound “cute.” ’ ‘My accent seems to imply negative characteristics.’ ”

Professors of Pronunciation Help Immigrants

Published By: 
USA Today
Published Date: 
2010, September 24
Article Excerpt: 

A growing number of immigrants are taking lessons and taking classes on how to speak English like an American, experts in pronunciation say.

Why don't we believe non-native speakers? The influence of accent on credibility

Published By: 
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Published Date: 
2010, July 19
Article Excerpt: 

... people perceive statements as less truthful when spoken by non-native speakers. When people listen to accented speech, the difficulty they encounter reduces “processing fluency.” But instead of perceiving the statements as more difficult to understand, they perceive them as less truthful. Consequently, non-native speakers who have an accent are seen as less credible.

Accent might reduce the credibility of non-native job seekers, eyewitnesses, reporters or news anchors. As we showed, such insidious impact of accent is even apparent when the non-native speaker is merely a messenger. Most likely, neither the native nor the non-native speakers are aware of this, making the difficulty of understanding accented speech an ever present reason for perceiving non-native speakers as less credible.

ESL job searchers turn to accent-reduction training in recession

Published By: 
straight.com
Published Date: 
2010, July 17
Article Excerpt: 

The economic downturn has led some B.C. residents who speak English as a second language—a demographic which faces unique challenges when looking for employment—to sign up for accent-reduction training ... while [accent reduction] services may not make an ESL job applicant stand out, they can help level the playing field with individuals born-and-raised in English-speaking communities.