What are the benefits of taking pronunciation or accent reduction training?

Pronunciation & accent reduction – benefits

By Ruben Adery

 

Some foreign languages are relatively easy to pronounce. They likely have a strong connection between the available sounds (phonology) and the letters or symbols that represent them i.e. they’re spelt phonetically. In these languages, there’s not much training involved, and in many cases the sounds may be the same in your native language.

However, in a language like English, which has gone through several waves of pronunciation changes and commonly uses many regional forms, it’s important to know that what you’re saying is clear and understandable where you use it.

The main benefits of pronunciation or accent reduction training come down to overall self-confidence and giving off the right impression. Sometimes the benefit may just be that your colleagues and clients stop asking about your accent and where you’re from – or even worse assuming they know everything about you because they can place your accent. Being able to speak a foreign language in a clear and natural way allows you to stay under the radar and go about your business knowing that pronunciation, at least, is not an issue – leaving you to get on with more important things.

Beyond just being clear, utilizing a particular regional accent may implicitly show that you have experience in that area and therefore understand certain cultural, social and business norms. This could prove to be a great advantage when building client relationships, attending a job interview or pitching a business idea; it emanates a sense of expertise within the first few seconds.

Pronunciation in general is a facet of language learning can sometimes be overlooked by learners. They might decide to save it for a later date, once they’ve mastered the grammar and vocab, not realizing that they’re going to have to relearn a lot of fundamental features of communicative skills. Trainers might find it difficult to give meaningful feedback on pronunciation errors, whether it’s due to a large class size, mixed levels, inability to clearly explain certain subtle differences, failure to relate to the learner’s native language. It’s difficult to focus on such a variable characteristic, and as a result, learners tend to pronounce the target language with the rules of their native language and inevitably create a sort of ‘dialect’ among their peers and others in their language group.

Finally, let’s take a look at the term ‘accent reduction’; even though after training, your accent may sound more natural to other native speakers, you haven’t really reduced or lost anything in your ability to speak. In fact, you’re actually adding a new skill set – an ability to recognize patterns and make small changes.

It is one of the most interesting and humbling experiences to perfect a spoken language that you’ve studied for years. It’s tough to accept a new pronunciation as ‘clearer’ or ‘better’ if you’ve already established a habit saying it another way. It often sounds weird or even wrong, and then eventually you hear others using it that way, and you think ‘huh… whaddaya know? It is that!’ And that moment of realization is why we study languages in the first place. It’s understanding. It’s growth. It’s confidence.

Language Services Direct’s Pronunciation and Accent Reduction MasterClass  is an interactive, tailored course aimed at those who – having already reached a high level of ability in their target language – find their ability to communicate compromised by issues with their accent and pronunciation. The course recognises the importance of clear and accurate pronunciation in helping to achieve business objectives. For more information or to get started, click here.

About the author

Ruben Adery is a dialect coach and pronunciation specialist living in Los Angeles. Fluent in 5 languages, he has spent much of his adult life trying to perfect the natural quality of his accent in each language, as well as imitate many foreign accents in English, a fun technique he claims actually helps him with the languages. More importantly, he is continually developing new strategies to simplify and relate the learning process for anyone looking to build more confidence. He focuses most of his efforts on perfecting pronunciation and appropriate word choice since the way you speak generates an identity that often represents your overall language ability. He’s recently completed a Fulbright scholarship where he spent time developing the English language program at a federal university in Brazil, and he travels often to maintain connections and explore new cultures. 

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