Many colleges and universities offer accent reduction programs that help non-native speakers of English be more easily understood. Some native speakers of English also enroll in accent reduction programs in order to lessen their regional accents. Proficiency in understanding written and spoken English is the only admission requirement. Most accent reduction programs require six months of work or less. Students are presented with a certificate of completion upon ending the program. Programs are available online.
Speech pathologists or other language professionals teach accent reduction programs. The classes are individual or group sessions. The programs start with an assessment of the student's speech. Then, the instructor leads the student through accent reduction techniques and assigns at-home practice exercises as well. Students practice reading aloud, giving oral presentations, and role playing. The specialist conducts a final assessment at the end of the class to evaluate students' progress.
Most students, professionals or English as second or foreign language speakers enroll in fee-based courses to improve their confidence and skill in English language communication and increase their abilities to work, learn and socialize in the U.S. Students need to sit for an evaluation of their speaking ability by an accent reduction coach or other speech or language professional before class begins or at the start of the program.
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Training Programs in Accent Reduction
Participants use self-awareness and self-monitoring along with practice in producing the correct sounds of vowels and consonants. Attention is paid to the rhythmic flow of speech, word connections, word order, vocabulary building and speech interferences that result from language differences. Techniques used in accent modification training include reading out loud, giving oral presentations, watching audio-visual recordings, talking on the telephone, and mock job interviews. Speech computer programs and voice recorders are incorporated into the program, so students can listen to correct pronunciations and their own pronunciations when they practice independently.
Accent reduction training programs do not have traditional classes. Throughout the course of the program, there are several topics likely to be studied over one or several meetings, which include:
- Sound substitution and critical listening
- Vowel pronunciation
- Consonant pronunciation
- Intonation and inflection
- Word order
- Verb tenses and pauses
Accent reduction programs do not lead to specific careers. Participants may already have an established job and aim to advance their speaking skills in order to receive additional assignments or promotions. Or, they may have or be seeking a career that involves a great deal of verbal communication with others. A person who enrolls in accent reduction training may already be employed as a:
- Postsecondary instructor
Students who wish to improve their skill and confidence with the English language can enroll in training programs in accent reduction to practice speaking. Upon completion of the program, students receive a certificate and can use their skills in verbal communication to work a variety of jobs.