Everyone has an accent, and it’s part of what makes us unique.
People sound different because they come from varying regions of the country, or from another country all together. And while having an accent is not a speech or language disorder in itself, it can make it difficult to speak with other people or be understood.
The effects of having an accent can range from the mildly annoying to the downright frustrating. You may be forced to constantly repeat yourself. Your accent may be routinely brought up as a topic of conversation, or you may find people focusing more on your accent than the substance of what you’re saying.
Worst of all, studies have shown that people who speak English as a second language are generally passed over for top managerial jobs and executive positions. And although discrimination and biases based on your accent is highly illegal, it happens often.
Why Do Accents Sound Different?
Every language has its own melody, rhythm, and stress points. Non-native English speakers often use the patterns of their own native language, which are generally different than English.
This can make the same word in both languages sound drastically different, hence, accented.
Having an accent affects our ability to pronounce consonants and vowels in English or any other second language.
Accents only become a problem if they interfere with your ability to communicate, or affect your academic or professional success.
Changing Your Accent
With hard work, practice, and professional guidance, you can learn how to change the way you pronounce words. Changing your accent is known as accent modification, and it’s routinely taught to non-native English speakers or those learning another language.
Common use cases for accent modification include:
- People who speak English as a second language
- People who want to change their regional accent
- Professionals who want to improve their communication at work
- Actors who need to learn or perfect a new accent for a role.
How Speech-Language Pathologists Can Help
Chances are you’ve attempted to change your accent in the past. The problem is that without professional help from a skilled clinician, it can be difficult to isolate the words or phrases that are causing the most trouble.
Many people looking to modify their accent seek the help of a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLPs). These professionals will work with you to better understand your speech needs, identify communication problems, and learn about your goals or what you’d like to change.
Some common things an SLP will typically look for during your sessions include:
- How you pronounce certain words and phrases
- The rhythm of your speech and the stress you put on certain sounds
- How you speak in conversation
The SLP will then use this information to create an individualized treatment plan best suited to your needs and goals.
The Price of Accent Modification
The best way to improve your accent and make progress towards your goals is to regularly visit with a speech therapist. Unfortunately, going to a speech therapy practice can get very expensive, very quickly.
While some speech therapy services are covered by insurance, accent modification is not one of them. This means all costs must be paid out-of-pocket. Many people delay or forgo accent modification simply because of the price - which can have downstream effects on their academic or professional life.
One alternative is to receive accent modification services from an SLP online via video conferencing. Working with a speech therapist online provides the same great level of service but at a considerably reduced price versus traditional in-practice settings.
Benefits of Online Speech Therapy
- Teletherapy is More Affordable
Practices have to pay for a lot of expenses that aren’t directly related to patient care - facility costs, marketing, support staff. With teletherapy, these cost savings are passed down to the customers.
- Flexible Scheduling and Convenience
Instead of spending time traveling to and from in-person therapy sessions, patients can schedule and attend appointments from the comfort of their own home. Patients also have greater flexibility to schedule sessions on the dates that work best, and at the times that they prefer.
- Just as Effective as Traditional Therapy
Because all Expressable therapists are licensed Speech-language pathologists, there’s no difference in quality between teletherapy and on-site therapy sessions. A landmark study from Kent State University showed that there was no significant difference in scores between students who participated in teletherapy versus on-site therapy.
For more information on Teletherapy, view our latest post “Why Choose Teletherapy?”
Association of Psychological Sciences
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)