Accent Reduction: 10 Myths and their Freeing Truths-Myths 1-2

There are many myths about accent reduction.  Discovering the truths about these myths is essential in creating effective communication with native English speakers if you speak English as a non-native language.  These truths will open doors to opportunities for you.  They’ll assist you in expressing your unique talents, skills, personality and spirit.

Accent Reduction Myths 1-2

Myth #1

“I don’t need to modify my accent for people to understand me better.”

Truth: By you speaking with more of the English sounds patterns and rhythm, your listeners’ ears and brains will have to do much less work to understand you.

If you are interacting with people who speak English as their native language, their ears are accustomed to hearing the English speech sounds and rhythm.  Their ears shout “I’M CONFUSED” when they hear an accent other than what they’re used to hearing.   You have options to repair breakdown.  You can wait for your listener to ask you to repeat what you’ve said.  This is the passive response.  Another passive option is to expect him/her to listen more closely to what you’re saying.

The risk for you in passive responses is that you are relying on your communication partner for many things.  You’re expecting them to notice the breakdown and do the work necessary to repair it.  You have the power to shape your native language into an American accent.  That is the assertive response.  If you’re having to repeat yourself, or people are frustrated, uncomfortable, or withdrawing from further conversation with you, accent reduction is a necessary component of your growth.

Myth #2

“If I don’t get immediate results (am not able to use my new speech behaviors in conversational speech), it doesn’t work.”

Truth: You have been speaking with your native language speech behaviors for many years.  It will take focus, practice, awareness during your sessions with your trainer, and awareness and practice outside of sessions with your trainer.

You will be able to see the changes as you become more proficient with the American English speech skills.  To comfort that part of you that feels the need to see immediate results, assure yourself that as you absorb your new speech behaviors and work with your trainer, the only possible result is improvement.  You’ll likely see some immediate results.  Focus on small improvements.  Larger improvements will occur as you progress.

Summary: The Truths Open you to Opportunity

The many myths about accent reduction keep talented skilled spirited individuals who speak English as a non-native language from fully expressing their unique brilliant selves.  The truths that replace these myths pave the way for you to connect in a deeper way with those you serve and interact with. This goes for both personal and professional relationships.

To your communication success,



MatejaSeptember 17th, 2014 at 11:22 am

Your blog is timely and sure you will understand the challenges. I wanted to work PT for a company who has proven to be very unethical and discriminating. I just wanted to share with you this. I am sure many people who are not native Americans go through this. I am very upset at their rudeness. Nobody has ever treated me like this! Your tips are always great.

“I do apologize, however you accent was very thick at times making it hard to understand exactly what it was you were trying to say. We need agents to have perfectly clear English in order for the potential students to be able to follow along with what you are trying to convey to them without the need to have to repeat yourself.”

Bonnie NussbaumSeptember 17th, 2014 at 11:58 am

This also reflects other times when we don’t see ourselves accurately and the value of truly hearing how someone else hears us.

ChristineSeptember 17th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I remember when I traveled extensively abroad. I tried very hard to speak like the people I was spending time with. Not only did it make communication easier but I so enjoyed immersing myself in the local culture more fully. Thanks for a great post about the importance of language, communication and persistence.

Kailean WelshSeptember 17th, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I like the way your tips encourage the person to be responsible for what is going on with any communication breakdown. It is so much easier to make something the other person’s fault, yet the only one we have any power over is ourselves. If we want something to work better, we will be the ones who have to do it.

VeronicaSeptember 17th, 2014 at 10:24 pm

I grew up in a European household where another language was often spoken. All were fluent in both languages. I understood the nuances which others may not. I think it is so important to keep improving and know it does matter to others. Whenever I struggle to listen to someone I remind myself they are doing their best – and have patience.

TeenaSeptember 18th, 2014 at 8:59 am

Cher I am reflecting on some of the couples I have worked with in my office who don’t speak English as their native language. It is essential in my work that I am able to understand their narrative and what I find fascinating is that even though they may not always speak clearly their emotions are expressed clearly in the room through their non verbal language. Whenever we can learn more about how to express our truths and walk through the many doors of opportunity is a wonderful thing!


Tina GamesSeptember 18th, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Wow! ~ As I read the two myths you shared, I truly felt the pain and struggle that non-native English speakers must feel when communicating with others in this country. ~ I give them all big kudos for trying! ~ I was in Montreal this summer, trying to remember enough French to get me through my visit there. It was a lot of work! But I could tell how much they appreciated my attempt. 🙂

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Thank you for your compassion for the experience that non-native English speakers encounter. My clients are my inspiration and I feel so fortunate to be able to support them on their magnificent journeys. And kudos to you too for working through your French challenges 🙂 It’s great that your communication partners in Montreal were supportive.
To mulitlingualism,
Cher 🙂

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2014 at 7:01 pm

How magnificent that you are so attuned to the nonverbal language and emotions expressed by your clients. Those nonverbal signals hopefully are cues that serve as a bridge to further undertanding their entire messages in their intirity. I love how you describe “how we express our truths.” Beautiful.
To the many expressions of our truths,

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2014 at 7:06 pm

My honors to you for holding in your heart compassion for speakers of foreign languages. In cases where words are insufficient, the heart communicates 🙂
To your compassion,

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2014 at 7:10 pm

I am a huge proponent of taking responsibility. Broken down, the word “responsibility” means “the ability to respond”. In times of challenge, we empower ourselves by taking initiative, by taking action. You say it well-we are the ones who have to do it. With that responsibility also comes empowerment. That is the payoff 🙂
To empowerment and thus fulfillment,

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

You’re very welcome. Immersing ourselves in culture is extremely valuable and connects us in such fulfilling ways. You have an open heart which is a critical component in connecting with others, especially when language differences are present:)
To your open heart for communication,

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

You make a great point-there are many applications to the information in this article 🙂 It is not specific to speaking non-native languages.
To overall improved communication,

Cher GundersonSeptember 18th, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry to hear how this has affected you. I encourage you to continue to advocate for yourself and the value you have to offer in the presence of your native Slovenian accent. I hope these articles continue to provide you with tips and tools for making this courageous journey on which you’ve chosen to embark.
To your continued success and fortitude,
Cher 🙂

PatriciaSeptember 20th, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Great article Cher!! Even though I consider I have a very soft accent when I speak english, I always try to do my best with my pronunciation so I can be understood and connect in a deeper way. Thanks for your super useful tips always! 🙂

Pam Kachelmeier MA, PC, LCSeptember 21st, 2014 at 9:39 pm

What I note of interested is why do some people speak loud when talking with someone of a different culture; when I worked in the insurance industry we spoke with many different cultures, and some of my co-workers…I noticed they talked loud into the telephone to try to understand the caller. Great blog, have to have patience and listen, or ask to explain.

Cher GundersonSeptember 22nd, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Pam, speaking loudly is a common, yet ineffective response in interactions resulting in breakdown due to language and accent barriers. It is a simplistic reaction of the brain to attempt to maximze the communication repair. Repeating, rephrasing, and asking for comprehension repeatedly and diligently are critical.

Cher GundersonSeptember 22nd, 2014 at 8:19 pm

You’re very welcome. It’s great you’re self-aware and doing your best to understood easily and efficiently, which creates those deeper connections 🙂 Keep at it. It’s well worth the effort 🙂
To your success and deep connections,

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