Accent Reduction: General Questions
1. What’s wrong with having an accent?
Nothing! Accents contribute to our global diversity. However, people with accents often express feeling held back professionally and/or socially.
Your accent may make it hard for others to understand you, especially on a videoconference or phone call, or in fast-paced situations. In today’s highly competitive job market, clear communication is an asset high on every employer’s priority list.
2. What happens when I reduce my accent? Will I lose my native way of speaking?
Your native accent will always be a part of who you are. You can switch back into your original accent whenever you want—but eliminating hard edges will make for a much smoother cultural and professional transition.
Developing a new accent is a key communication tool for living in the United States, but it does not mean your cultural identity is lost. However, you should be comfortable with the idea of speaking with an American English accent before starting accent reduction training.
3. What is Standard American English?
Standard American English (SAE) is not native to any U.S. region. SAE is considered the most neutral, least distracting way of speaking American English.
Fluent and gentle, SAE highlights resonant, open vowels and intonation that rises and falls smoothly. English is a stress-timed language that alternates constantly between stressed and unstressed words. Actors, radio broadcasters, and public speakers use SAE because it’s clear and easy on the ears.
4. Is accent reduction covered by health insurance?
Health insurance does not cover accent reduction classes. However, it often covers speech or voice therapy if you have a speech, language, or voice disorder.
5. Will my company cover the cost of speech or voice training?
Some employers will cover our services as part of their personal development or continuing education programs. Ask your employer or HR specialist, and let us know how we can help.
6. Can’t I just use tapes and other materials to learn American English on my own?
You can likely make some progress this way. However, to experience lasting change, most people need consistent feedback. A speech pathologist is the best person to determine if you are hearing and producing sounds correctly; otherwise, you may further distort your speech.
7. Why should I choose AccentsOff Speech and Voice Improvement services?
We have been devoting ourselves to the focused specialization of accent work since opening our NYC doors in 2011. Our instructors (a team of six licensed speech-language pathologists and/or communications specialists) have extensive experience in accent reduction, English language enhancement, and presentation training. Each of our instructors, in addition to graduate-level academic preparation, has completed an intensive and ongoing AccentsOff training program; and each holds a unique and complementary background in the arts (music, acting, writing, etc.) as well as broad experience working with clients from the business sector.
AccentsOff uses a unique approach that teaches you how to speak clearly by listening in a careful, natural, and relaxed manner. Our goal as instructors is to give you the resources and support you need to see the change immediately and keep the progress going during home practice. We will encourage you to take risks and experiment. We strive to help students learn the American English accent quickly, with long-lasting benefits.
Our instructors will provide you with the highest level of attention, sensitivity, and professionalism.
How do our sessions work?
1. How long will it take for me to see results? How many sessions will I need, and how often?
That will depend on your goals, frequency, and how developed your accent is. Most people take sessions once or twice a week, and start noticing changes during the very first class.
Developing a new way of speaking is a cumulative process. If you think about how long you’ve been speaking with accented English, then you can appreciate the time and effort of learning a new accent. Some clients have graduated from our program with extraordinary results in less than 20 sessions.
2. When are sessions available?
We offer flexible scheduling 7 days a week, including weekday evenings and weekend hours.
4. Are your classes private or group?
We offer private and semi-private instruction. Sign up on your own, or meet us with a friend or colleague.
5. How much does the program cost?
We begin with a free evaluation to determine how long we feel it will take for you to achieve your goals. Most clients work with us for several months. See our Fees page for more information.
For Employers and Human Resources
1. How do I know if my staff member could use accent training?
You’d be surprised how many foreign-born professionals feel insecure about having an accent! And if your employee is difficult to understand or is shy about communicating, that is a sure sign that an accent reduction program would be helpful. If you have hired foreign-born staff members, consider speech and accent training as part of your onboarding package. These skills help employees get comfortable in the workplace, speak more persuasively and effectively, and get up to speed as quickly as possible.
We emphasize daily practice and provide lifetime access to our unique library of home practice materials. We can also help with upcoming presentations and written communication.