Accent Reduction

A Diagnostic Evaluation Is Followed by a Confidential Written Report

PROGRAM COMPONENTS

All or some of these components may be evaluated depending on need.

  • Determination of the individual’s aptitude for success: ability to modify speech patterns, availability to participate in weekly coaching sessions in addition to daily practice sessions, and motivation- this is hard work.
  • Systematic evaluation which contrasts accented speech patterns with standard American unaccented speech in areas of prosody, speech sounds, auditory discrimination, grammar, vocabulary development, and cultural communication variations. Differences are called transference errors. See definitions below.
  • Determination of an individual’s ability to listen for critical information in a pre-taped, complex, listening-for-assignment task.
  • Reading and Summarization: The individual is requested to read a two-paragraph selection and give a top-line summarization.
  • Evaluation of an unreviewed, previously developed presentation and slides.
  • Review of uncorrected written documents.
  • Presence: facial expression, eye contact, comportment, and other nonverbals.
  • Highly Recommended: 360 feedback gathered from colleagues, supervisor, etc. gathered on perception of the client’s comprehension, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, writing, presentation, and interpersonal skills, such as listening and handling conflict.
  • Consultation with the individual’s supervisor

Coaching is offered in all the above areas as indicated by the diagnostic evaluation.

Homework is given and evaluated through MP3s.

DEFINITIONS

Transference Errors

For a second language user, transference errors arise in the second language as a result of a correct habit developed in the first language or dialect which is then carried over incorrectly to a second language or dialect. Transference errors are generally inconsistent.

Verbal Expression

Verbal expression is the confluence of a speaker’s ability to target a message to the audience’s needs, the organization of that message, correct word choice – requiring a sufficient retrievable vocabulary base, grammatical/syntactic fluency, and pronunciation that is clear enough so that a listener does not have to strain to understand the speaker.

Intelligibility

The ability to be understood.

 Prosody 

The prosody of a language includes intonation and rhythm.  Intonation is the rise and fall of the loudness and pitch of the voice.  Rhythm comprises the timing of the syllables within a word, the timing of words within a sentence, and appropriate linking between words, phrases, and sentences.  In standard American English, each word and each phrase has one primary stress point.  The prosody of a language contributes heavily to a speaker’s ability to be understood. Word-level stress, sentence-level stress, and the ability to use contrastive stress to repair a misunderstanding are evaluated. Prosodic errors are the norm for second-language speakers.  Prosody accounts for more than fifty percent of a speaker’s ability to be understood.  

Speech Sounds or Phonology

Speech sound errors are of three types: 1.) a speech sound substitution where one speech sound is pronounced in place of another. For example, a person might say kite when trying to pronounce bite.  2.) a speech sound omission where a sound or syllable is not pronounced as part of a word. For example, a person might say ca when meaning to say cat. 3.) a speech sound distortion occurs in vowel sounds when one vowel sound is distorted to sound close to another vowel sound.  A consonant sound, however, may simply be distorted without sounding similar to another English speech sound. English spelling is highly irregular contributing to mispronunciations.

Auditory Discrimination

This portion of a speech sound evaluation determines whether the individual can hear the difference between two words when they differ only by a single vowel or consonant sound. The evaluator asks the individual to repeat both words. Performance in this area provides significant information to the examiner. 

Cultural Communication

Cultures vary in the way a message is organized, its relative directness, how conflict is handled, and the manner of communicating messages to superiors among other variables.

Differences in the Patterned Sequences of Words Between the Primary and Acquired

Language (Grammar and Syntax)

English language errors are frequently found in word order, verb tensing, subject-verb agreement, word inflection, preposition use, article use, and awkward expression.

Vocabulary Deficits

A sufficient retrievable vocabulary is necessary in business discourse. Vocabulary deficits often manifest as incorrect word usage.

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