About Helen Kobek

PLEASE NOTE: All lessons take place online via Zoom.

Helen Kobek - Boston Accent Modification InstructorI have been teaching accent modification to people from all over the world for over thirty years. I have a degree in Communication Disorders from Emerson College, and research experience in acoustics/phonetics at MIT.

When I was a student at Emerson College, I took part in the Work Study program. I was paid by the Student Resource Department to tutor students who were struggling in some of their classes. I was tutoring history, biology, and some other academic areas, when, one day, the director of the Department asked me if I’d like to try my hand at tutoring a student with a significant Spanish accent. This student desperately wanted to speak with a more standard American accent. I cheerily said, “Sure!” We had our first lesson, and I fell in accent-modification-love!

While an undergraduate at Emerson College I also had the opportunity to create and teach a semester Phonetics course to the graduate and Ph.D. students in the Communication Disorders Department. This experience further deepened my fascination with, and respect for, how we all make and modify our speech.

My time at MIT was spent transcribing infant speech sounds. Perhaps you’re wondering why infant speech sounds would have any bearing on my now teaching adults? Well, it’s all the same, whether it’s babbling, or clear language, the key is being able to hear subtle differences, understand how those differences are made. And then, where adult students are concerned, teaching them towards the target sound.

I’ve done other kinds of work, for short periods of time, but I always come right back to accent modification work. It is ever satisfying, always challenging, always enjoyable, and I always see progress in students who give it energy and attention. The challenge of figuring out how to help students learn something complex is sincerely enjoyable to me. I can work with a student on the same sound challenge for what seems like a very long time, and never get bored or irritated…it’s just part of the process. It’s all about finding the right way “in,” and that way always comes.

It’s truly an honor for me to be let into the communication life of students. I understand it’s a vulnerable – sometimes stressful – decision, to work on an accent. It can be challenging for a student to be in a place where they are fluent, know and produce excellent grammar, but are not understood by the people they need to be understood by. I take this situation seriously, respectfully. And that’s where I start; with respect. And on that, I build the tutoring process with knowledge of the speech system, and creative teaching techniques.

I look forward to having the opportunity to work together. Contact me when you are ready. And for more information, please visit Boston area Accent Modification Instruction. For student testimonials, please click here.

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