FAQ: Accent Reduction, Accent Comprehension, and Training
What will I learn in an English pronunciation class?
Accents International's English pronunciation classes teach the aspect of English fluency that is typically left out of a traditional ESL course: pronunciation
Pronunciation training includes standard American English vowels and consonants, as well as the patterns of rhythm, stress, and intonation that are used in everyday speech.
Is an English pronunciation training class the same thing as a course in presentation skills?
Although English pronunciation training includes intonation and voice projection skills, which are critical to a successful presentation, the focus is on accurate articulation.
Presentation skills typically address how speakers present information and field questions. English pronunciation, on the other hand, teaches the best ways to produce the sounds in English that don't occur in other languages.
Does Accents International teach intonation as part of its American English pronunciation training?
Yes, intonation is an essential part of American English speech patterns.
Intonation, the rise and fall of your voice, is the part of your speech that conveys feeling and demonstrates emphasis. Intonation also helps your listener determine if you're asking a question, providing information, or completing a thought. Intonation patterns engage your listener and give vitality to your speech. Some people say that intonation is what makes communication come alive.
Patterns of intonation in American English differ from those of other languages. As a result, intonation is "a must" for any comprehensive communications program.
I've been in the U.S. a long time. Why is English pronunciation still difficult?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of English pronunciation is that words aren't pronounced the way they're spelled. English is not a phonetic language. In fact, there isn't one letter in the English alphabet that's always pronounced the same way.
For instance, although there are only five vowels (or six, if you include 'y') in the English alphabet, there are twenty-one vowel sounds in spoken English. This is one reason why, even after many years of living in the U.S., people still struggle with English pronunciation.
Another reason is that adult learners need to learn how to use speech muscles in new ways to produce standard American English sounds. At first, this may feel unnatural and strange. They're often very different from the way speech muscles are used when speaking in one's native language. However, through pronunciation training, which must include specific instructions and guided feedback, we know everyone can produce every sound in every human language.
Do you teach American pronunciation or British English pronunciation?
We teach standard American English pronunciation to serve the needs of US-based corporations, global companies with a multinational workforce, and people who do business with an American client base.
What is the difference between accent reduction, accent modification, and accent neutralization?
These are three terms used interchangeably to describe accent training.
They share a common objective: to learn articulation techniques needed for speaking with standard pronunciation.
Who benefits from a diversity and communication training program?
Everyone. When an organization provides English accent training and accent comprehension training, the entire organization benefits: non-native English speakers, their team members, and an organization's clients and customers. People from different cultural backgrounds provide new vantage points for innovation and problem solving. Contributions are made when messages are understood.
How does accent comprehension affect a company's bottom line?
Global companies realize that when talent engagement increases, so too does the organization's bottom line. Accent comprehension improves talent engagement by allowing a multinational workforce to communicate with ease and a spirit of camaraderie.
What are the learning outcomes of an accent comprehension program?
Accents International's patent-pending listening curriculum is simple, straightforward, and actionable. It provides a systematic approach to:
- Understanding unfamiliar accents for rapid comprehension of heavily accented speech
- Pronouncing common, non-English names
- Responding when you don't understand your colleague or client
Speaking with clarity and confidence helps everyone perform at their very best.
What is "soft skills" training?
Soft skills training programs are designed to help people create positive interpersonal relationships. They often fall in the category of diversity and inclusion and talent management. Developing effective communication is a requirement for building strong teams, implementing succession plans, and creating competitive advantages.
According to a 2011 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, verbal communication skills are ranked as the #1 soft skill sought by employers in job candidates, coming in above strong work ethic, teamwork skills, analytical skills, and initiative.
Our Programs & Faculty
Does the Accent Reduction Institute offer customized programs?
- Yes; Accents International will customize our standard training programs to fit your organization's needs. We also create customized software learning tools to support specific curricular objectives.
- Accents International's programs scale to meet national and/or global initiatives.
- Accents International programs are customized for individual or group training
Are Accents International instructors qualified?
Accents International's faculty of accent coaches are certified speech language pathologists, linguists, and/or university level instructors who are certified in the Ravin Method® of rapid language acquisition. They have the most comprehensive training available for effective teaching of accent reduction techniques. Our faculty is consistently assessed by the metrics of improvement made by their program participants.
All instructors are highly trained in cultural competency. They not only understand global perspectives and cultural norms, they value them.
Where do accent reduction classes take place?
Classes and workshops are offered:
- At the client's workplace
- At our offices
- In our online, distance learning center using Accents International's live, two-way video/web conferencing
What software do you use? Why don't you use voice recognition software?
Accents International uses proprietary software developed by Menlo Innovations, a company that creates software learning tools with the end user in mind. Our software is easy to use and combines text, video, and audio input to teach patterns of standard American English pronunciation.
We've found that voice recognition software has two inherent problems:
- Speech recognition has become "too good" in recent years, so that it often "understands" what the speaker is saying even when a mispronunciation occurs. Hence the learning opportunity is lost.
- In instances when voice recognition catches the mispronunciation, it doesn't train the user how to correct the mispronunciation.
How does the Ravin Method® differ from other methods of pronunciation training?
While many other pronunciation training methods rely on a "listen and repeat" process for speech training, the Ravin Method® uses an auditory, visual, and kinesthetic approach.
- The Ravin Method® is based on the recognition that many people cannot initially hear the difference between various sounds of a second, or additional, language. If you can't hear the difference, "listen and repeat" simply won't work.
- Using the Ravin Method®, learners are taught the kinesthetic differences between sounds. In other words, program participants discover how to use their speech apparatus (tongue, teeth, gum ridge, lips, and jaw) to recognize how it feels when making a new sound.
- The Ravin Method® ensures learners know what it looks like when making a new sound. For example, when making the sound 'th', they should be able to see the tip of their tongue between their teeth.
- With a kinesthetic and visual approach, Ravin Method® learners are able to self-correct... an essential part of the language acquisition process.
- Through pictures, video clips, and expert training, the Ravin Method® teaches the production of sounds that occur in standard American English but may not exist in other languages.
Ravin Method® methodology is rooted in the core disciplines of cognitive neurology, speech pathology, and applied linguistics.
Multiculturalism & Diversity
What do people mean by "the business case for diversity"?
Successful businesses in today's global workforce are able to serve diverse communities. Our workforce represents a multicultural client base with rapidly growing purchasing power. For example, in the last decade the buying power of Hispanics grew by 108% and Asians by 98%.
When our workforce is empowered to communicate easily, they're able to innovate, problem solve, and effectively serve the needs of their diverse client base.
Why are accents a diversity issue?
According to the US Department of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 23.9 million members of our workforce are foreign born.
Recognizing the essential contributions they make to U.S. and global organizations, pronunciation training is a key part of professional development for industry experts with heavily accented speech.
Learning accent reduction techniques enables people to convey their know-how with clarity, confidence, and ease. This leads to clear communication that leverages professional expertise, retains key talent, and creates client loyalty.
Will people be offended if I offer accent reduction training?
Our experience has been that non-native English speakers welcome the opportunity to build effective communication skills and "level the playing field".
Accent reduction through Accents International emphasizes eliminating language barriers while helping people maintain their unique cultural identities. We recognize that an accent is a speech pattern; we all have an accent. Accents International's pronunciation training focuses on acquiring the ability to pronounce sounds in English that may not occur in their first language.
Accent reduction training is typically offered as part of a Diversity and Inclusion initiative. Our faculty members are experts at culturally competent training. Our programs do not compromise a person's cultural identity. Accent reduction training with Accents International is not an accent elimination program. In fact, our program participants are taught how to 'code switch' between different speech patterns. It's always an individual's choice which pronunciation pattern they would like to use.
How will accent reduction help my organization?
Accent reduction training at Accents International:
- Improves talent engagement
- Increases productivity
- Creates successful onboarding initiatives
- Improves the success rate of career advancement
- increases client loyalty
- Removes communication barriers and miscommunications
- Facilitates effective teamwork
- Creates inclusive environments
- Contributes to the bottom line
How will an accent coach help my employees?
- Creates opportunities for career advancement
- Raises confidence
- Increases teamwork and collaboration
- Improves employee-customer relations
Does accent reduction really work?
Yes; Accents International training with a certified accent coach allows our clients to quickly, decisively, and permanently change the muscle memory of their speech apparatus.
In doing so, our clients master English sounds that had previously been impossible to pronounce.
Are results measurable?
Accents International students have preset objectives with a specified length of coursework duration.
A language proficiency assessment is available prior to the start of the program.
A progress report is also available for students and/or employers at the conclusion of each course.
How can my organization measure the benefits of an accent reduction course?
Accents International's ROI Calculator measures how much money an organization saves, in dollars and cents, by providing our accent reduction programs to their workforce.
The data provides ROI metrics specific to each program, each participant, and each client.
Accents International's ROI Calculator consistently shows that the cost of an Accents International accent reduction course pays for itself after the second, one-hour session.
How long does it take to get results?
Using Accents International's accent reduction methodology and curriculum, improvement is noticeable in just two, hourly sessions. A full curriculum is determined by the client's level of proficiency.
Instruction does not typically go beyond 20 total hours.