Accent Reduction -- How To Get A 'Virtually' Perfect American Accent

Published: 22nd August 2008
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First impressions count -- especially in the business world. It can be extremely difficult for foreign immigrants to be successful in the American business world, not because of their intelligence but often because of their accent.

A thick non-American accent can sometimes prevent people from understanding everything a foreign person says. In the business world, this could mean the difference between getting the job and not, or landing that big contract.

Accent reduction is fast becoming mandatory for any foreign citizen wanting to improve their English speech. Leaving nothing to chance, many companies now offer accent reduction through specifically developed speech software.

This accent reduction speech software can be used in an at-home environment, or, for fast results, under the supervision of a professional speech therapist.

A Perfect Accent, Virtually

Using the latest online technology, most speech software takes a user through a series of programmed lessons. The lessons normally cover pronunciation, intonation and any American-specific word stresses or linking.

There are some programs which offer only audio cues for accent reduction. However, the better ones have their accent reduction guides presented in video format. A qualified speech therapist should demonstrate commonly mispronounced letters or sounds. The lesson should go through specifics such as tongue placement, sound positioning, voicing, volume and more. Seeing another person visually and audibly demonstrate the correct mouth positioning and other sound elements can increase the likelihood of first-time pick up for the participant.

Practice Makes Perfect

Most speech software programs include pauses or dedicated lessons specifically for practicing the accent reduction techniques. There are some programs on the market that will work through the computer's webcam to capture a recording of the user pronouncing the specific sound or letter for playback later.

Once the recording has been captured, it can be viewed for self analysis. This is a particularly good way for the individual wishing to reduce their accent to see first-hand the areas that need to be improved upon. By recording and viewing online, it creates a safe, virtually anonymous arena to make as many mistakes and improvements as needed.

Professional Guidance

Many people interested in accent reduction enlist the help of a professional speech therapist or vocal coach. A growing number of these professionals are using speech software to enhance their speech therapy sessions and a client's progress.

Quite a few professional speech therapists who are using the software programs comment that it encourages their patients to practice in between face-to-face sessions. What this does is dramatically increase the rate at which their clients progress with their accent.

Using particular software, the same speech recordings that individual users could privately view can be sent to either their speech therapist or vocal coach. The speech coach or other person is able to view the video and provide objective feedback on mistakes or positive improvements. Almost instantaneous feedback can quickly correct a mistake before it becomes a habit or give a greatly needed boost of confidence for good performance.

About the Author: Christine O'Kelly is an author for SureSpeak, a leading provider of interactive online speech software solutions used by people wishing to improve their communication skills or master accent reduction techniques.

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