by Rachel Archambault
Speech- Language Pathologists not only work with patients that have a speech or language disorder, but they can also work with those who would like to decrease their accent. A communication difference/ dialect can be determined by regional, social, or cultural/ethnic factors. These factors are not considered a disorder of speech or language.
A foreign accent is different from a regional accent. Think of a foreign accent being someone with an Indian accent and you have an American accent. Regional is more complicated. Think of all the ways American accents differ: Southern, Mid-western, mid-eastern, Boston, New York, and Northern, to name some.
Often times, people may choose to undergo accent reduction therapy in order to reduce or get rid of their accent. Many people choose this option in order to assimilate into a different place or for work purposes.
One of my professors in college had a very heavy Indian accent. She often said that her biggest complaint from her students is that they cannot understand her lectures. The university recommended that she go for foreign accent reduction therapy so her students will be able to understand her better. After about a year of therapy, the student complaints diminished because she was able to learn English sounds that were not in her original vocabulary.
Regional accents are also troublesome in the workplace. A great number of adults with a Southern accent choose to go through accent reduction therapy because they say the accent makes others think they are less educated. Other accents such as Boston or New York are very intense dialects, making some choose to have therapy.
The decision to go through foreign/regional accent reduction therapy is a personal choice. If one does choose to receive help, an SLP will be able to help bring the accent to a more neutral point, Standard American English. Once the SLP determines what accent or dialect is being used, they will teach sounds to the patient that will help them adjust their accent. Given that SAE is the linguistic variety used by the government, the mass media, business, education, science, and the arts in the United States, speakers of other varieties of American English may find it advantageous to be able to speak SAE.
PamelaRowe, Speech Therapy, offers Accent Reduction Services online and in person. Call 407-271-4911 for more information.