Accent Reduction: Is Pride in your Heritage and Culture Moving you Forward?
Pride: Positives and Negatives
I recently was thinking about how my mother and father have provided me with so many wonderful gifts. I am thankful that I can give them back the gift of pride in the work that I do. Pride can be a complex concept. There are negative aspects as well as positive aspects surrounding pride. The negative associations with pride are generated from pride preventing someone from reaching out for help. Pride can limit ones’ ability to admit their shortcomings. When I talk about being proud of the work that I do, a concept came to me “Pride surrounding one’s culture and heritage.
In the work that I do, I’ve encountered individuals who are proud of their culture, heritage, and linguistic background; they embrace these experiences. At the same time that they embrace their uniqueness, they acknowledge their yearning to assimilate and connect with individuals in cultures (other than their native cultures) in which they’re currently immersed and interacting. In my case, this is the American English culture. At Master Your Accent, we work with clients who are fluent non-native speakers of English and who are advancing their spoken English skill base. What I find so beautiful about these clients is their ability to acknowledge that they can learn the tools to communicate and fully express their skills, talents, personalities and spirits at the same time as embracing their non-English heritage, culture, and background.
I believe that it takes some work to achieve that level of balanced perspective. I say this from personal experience in my own life. Take, for instance, my background in gymnastics. I need to realize that my coaches were right in that when I failed to execute a gymnastics trick and fell down hundreds of times doing a handspring on the balance beam, it had nothing to do with my effort, intentions, and my worth as a gymnast. Rather it had more to do with simply learning the tools to accomplish the trick accurately. I became more successful as a gymnast the more that I simply chose not to judge myself for whether the trick was executed accurately but whether I was continuing to identify how I could improve. Continually as my work as a speech-language pathologist and accent reduction specialist, in learning ways to become more effective as a practitioner. I encourage you to view your own work with repairing communication in this way.
Fluency Versus Accent
I encourage you to remember and know that your first language was acquired as your brain was developing. Therefore, your brain knows that language the best. It has become accustomed to hearing and producing that language and the speech sounds of that language. Although you may be fluent in English or near fluent in English, your speech pronunciation skills and knowledge of the rhythm and finer aspects of the grammar and social components of spoken English are simply habits and skills that you may simply still want to learn.
Both are Possible
It’s not an either -or situation. It’s not a matter that you have to be effective at EITHER communicating in one language or another. It’s a matter of learning the skills to be an effective communicator in your second, or third, or even fourth language. Once you learn the new habits, you can choose when and where to use your new spoken English skills. Changing your speech habits is very possible. You just need to learn the new habits in order to replace your native language habits when speaking English. Accent modification will help you acquire the new spoken English habits. You will then be able to advance your professional and personal communication with native speakers of English.
Where to Start
In many cases, its difficult to know which speech habits to replace. Some clients come to us and say “This is the sound I want to master.” Some clients come to us and say “I’m not sure what else to do. I’ve watched videos and I know some of the sounds I have trouble saying, but people still aren’t understanding me.” If you’re not sure which habits to replace, it is a benefit to find an accent modification specialist. If you know some of your challenge areas but still are encountering communication barriers, accent modification can help. Some specialists offer FREE SPEECH SCREENINGS. You can record your voice and send it to the specialist. They can then provide you with feedback on which areas (speech sound pronunciation, intonation, grammar, rate) are areas for further consideration.
Compliment to your First Language
An experienced accent reduction specialist will EMPOWER and SUPPORT you using your original, or native culture and heritage. Be empowered by your yearning to improve. Know that you will attract an accent modification specialist who is the “right fit” for you. Shedding any fear of learning new habits for speaking English, and shedding any fear that you may lose your native cultural identity will step you forward in communicating more effectively. You will reach more people when you communicate more effectively and efficiently. Get excited that you will be sharing your unique skills, talents, personality and spirit with SO MANY MORE people in your life! Get EXCITED about the OPPORTUNITIES that will open up in your life! Kindle your spirit in knowing that accent reduction will be a COMPLIMENT to your native language and your native culture and heritage! We wish you EMPOWERMENT and EXCITEMENT as you decide to move forward with your spoken English communication!
If you enjoyed and benefited from this article, and feel more empowered to compliment your first language with accent modification, you may want to check out:
Share your Experiences, Comment, or Ask Questions
We hope this blog was valuable to you. Click on the comments section at the end of this article, scroll to the bottom, and leave a comment and/or question. We’ll be happy to respond. It is Master Your Accent’s mission to empower you to communicate your message clearly the first time. When you can communicate clearly the first time, you’re confident. That means you can fully express your skills, talents, personality, and spirit!
Here’s to your balanced perspective on your native language and American English!