English Pronunciation: Modify or “Eliminate”?

change-948008_960_720“I want to have no foreign accent at all. Help me eliminate my accent!” I often hear new accent modification students say. It makes sense that anyone who has trouble being understood would think they need to get rid of their non-Standard American accent in order to be understood, but it’s really not true at all. You can be understood all the time and still have your accent, your culture, your own voice.

In fact, everyone has an accent. So there’s no such thing as eliminating an accent. We all speak, and we all speak in our culturally-trained way, or even in a modified way. But we all have an accent. And I love and appreciate different accents – accents reflect who we are, where we come from, what our lives are like. A variety of accents in our world makes this world more interesting, from where I sit. Indeed, the idea of living in a world in which everyone sounds the same seems rather dull to me! But we will work together to modify the accent you have.

So, as we move along in accent modification (English pronunciation) lessons, we emphasize working on the priority sounds that make you understood, tweaking the sounds that get in the way. We assess as we go along, we shift our techniques as you improve. And you do improve – in a short period of time (usually a couple of months), you will notice people are asking you to repeat yourself less and less. People are asking you, “Where are you from?” as their first question less often.  This change is heartening for students. Your confidence builds. You know that, when you speak, engage, start conversations, it will be easier and easier.

Of course, if you absolutely must get to a place of sounding Standard American (perhaps you aspire to be a radio announcer with certain characteristics, or your workplace insists on it), we can get you there, too. This is a personal choice, which I support the student to make. And, commonly, a student starts accent modification lessons wanting to eliminate rather than modify, and then changes that goal as they notice improvement in communication with others. And, conversely, sometimes a student starts wanting to modify toward being understood, becomes heartened by their progress, and decides to move their goal towards the Standard American accent. Both are infinitely doable. The latter (moving to a fully Standard American English accent) does take longer – up to two years.

Whatever your choice, I’m here, with decades of experience, to help you reach your goal.

© 2015-2018 Helen Kobek and helenkobek.com. All rights reserved.