What is Accent Modification?

Accent What?!

Many people, even educated, certified speech-language pathologists, have many questions about what accent modification is.  Not to worry!  Although there are many aspects to accent modification, its purpose is to help foreign-born individuals improve their spoken English.  Accent Modification can be “boiled down to,” or, in other words, described, in eight categories!

Click on any of the article and video links below for more information.

Eight Categories of Accent Modification

  1. Sound Production. When we want our listeners to understand us, we need the words to come out clearly.  In accent modification, we focus on “breaking down” (see “figurative language below), or separating words into their individual sounds.  We separate these sounds into the way the tongue is positioned, which is called articulator placement.  We also separate the sounds into the way the air moves or the way the air stops in the mouth, and we call this manner of articulation.  For example,  we also focus on whether a sound is “voiced” or “unvoiced.”
  2. Word Order. For example, in Spanish, the words that indicate subject versus verb are in the opposite order as they are in the English language.
  3. Verb Variations.  For example, the verb “to be” has five different types or conjugations/variations.  Vocabulary. Accent modif ication exposes you to new vocabulary words and their meanings.  Specifically, we can help you learn how to pronounce field-specific words you use in your everyday job.
  4. Spelling-Sound Correspondence. I taught English to adults learning English as a second language. What seemed to really help them was learning that the way a word is spelled is not necessarily the way it is pronounced.  They began to realize that one speech sound can be spelled many different ways!
  5. Syllable Stress. When we have a word that has more than one syllable, we must determine which location of the word the voice rises in the volume and the pitch level.  When we change the volume and pitch level, the  vowel pronunciation becomes longer in duration.  See short video “Syllable Stress.”
  6. Intonation. Intonation is the variation of pitch used for speaking which is not used to distinguish words themselves.  Instead of distinguishing words themselves, intonation changes the reason for the sentence.  For example, raising the volume and pitch in  the last word in a sentence can change the sentence to a question.  Rasing the volume and pitch at the end of a sentence can also indicate politeness.
  7. Figurative Language. “Figures of speech” include phrases that mean more than just their individual words.
  • The seed was planted.”  In my biography, I stated that I was referring to my love for accent modification.  “The seed was planted” just meant that like a seed, my experience of accent modification was “planted” or set into my memory to use at a later date.
  • Boiled down to…”  As another example of figurative language, we see that “boiled down to” was used at the beginning of this page.  “Boiled down to” means something different but similar to heating an item to a very high level and for a long enough time that the item reduces its size to the last remaining item.  This happens when a chef cooks a sauce that has a lot of thin tasty liquid but wants most of the liquid to evaporate-so the remaining ingredient can still hold the taste of the liquid without the actual liquid.  In other words, the “main ingredient” is the result.  Similarly, “boiled down to” for our purposes in this article meant taking a lot of information and describing it in a few categories.
  • Breaking down… Why not learn from another example?!  In the category of “Sound Production,” “ referred to separating words into their individual sound components.  We don’t actually “break” the words as to need repairing; however, we separate each word into sounds that make up the word.

There you have it!  You now know eight areas of accent modification!  Improving your spoken English in these areas will greatly help you on your exciting journey of improving your spoken English!   To increase your communication success, view our articles,  Tips for Successful Communication, and the Science Behind Accent Modification.

Our specialists at Master Your Accent are happy to talk with you if you are interested in seeking more information about how accent modification can benefit you or your employees specifically.  Contact cher@masteryouraccent.com or call (920) 362-2359.  At Master Your Accent we are committed to helping you or your employees decrease the risk of misunderstandings and achieve full expression of skills, talents, spirits and personalities.  Download the FREE Transform your Accent: Transform your Life Kit at www.masteryouraccent.com.

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