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Accented Speech
Regional & Foreign Accent​

If you think about it, accent is a natural part of spoken language.  Everyone speaks American English with an accent that reflects a particular part of the US or a particular country.   A regional accent makes it possible to tell if the speaker is from Boston, Philadelphia or New York.  Deciding if a person is from Australia, France, Japan or Brazil is easy just by listening to a very few words. 

Our manner of speech is a part of who we are.  Many of us are perfectly content with the accented speech we use.  However, for some people, accented speech makes it difficult to be understood resulting in a communication problem because listeners often focus more on how a sentence is spoken rather than to what is being said.  Some accented speakers limit social interactions or become frustrated when not understood.   If job performance, educational advancement and everyday life activities are affected negatively by accented speech, it may be time to consider learning to 
put on an American accent in order to become an effective communicator.  The goal is not so much to lose the accent as it to Americanize the speech.   Thus, accented speech is a communication problem that requires the specific knowledge and expertise of a Speech & Language Pathologist.

An accent modification program is developed around the three components of intonation, resonance and pronunciation.  American Intonation deals with aspects of pitch, stress and rhythm.  This is the melody of American English created by pitch changes, stressing syllables and the length of syllables.   

Additionally, it is necessary to create an American resonance by focusing on where sounds are placed in the mouth (different for every language).  The Muscularity and Voice Placement phase looks at how the muscles move in the mouth in order to sound more American.  The movement of mouth muscles during speech and where these muscles focus sound in the mouth affect the resonance of every utterance.  

American Pronunciation, concentrates on learning specific American English speech sounds (vowels and consonants) within the frame of the newly learned rhythm and movement patterns of intonation and resonance.

A comprehensive evaluation of accented speech is completed to judge the extent and source of the communication problem by assessing the aspects of rhythm, resonance and pronunciation in words, sentences and conversation.  An individual plan to improve overall communication ability is developed based upon the results of the evaluation.

Constance has worked with accented speakers from throughout the US and from around the world.  She has had a previous adjunct faculty appointment to the New School University: Actors Studio Drama School (NY) teaching a course in neutral American speech.  She has been named a Preferred Trainer by LDS & Associates, the leader in design and implementation of communication programs for accented speakers.

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