What to Look for in a Speech Trainer
For Non-Native English Speakers:
Anyone who has ever attempted to learn another language knows the difficulties in accurately mastering the subtle sounds and nuances of a native speaker.
While this might not be a problem when asking for directions to the restroom in a foreign country, in business settings, where intelligibility and accuracy are important, accent reduction may be critical to one's success. In addition, speaking clearly and confidently in one's personal life can truly change one's comfort level across various settings.
Accent reduction involves training a person to hear the sounds and stress patterns of a new language clearly, so they are able to produce them in their own speech. The time it takes for a person to noticeably reduce an accent varies widely, depending on the severity of the accent and how much energy they are willing to dedicate to this new skill. Programs vary, can be done in groups or individually, and usually last between seven and twelve weeks. They are designed and tailored to meet the individual's needs.
When seeking help to reduce your accent, it is important to find someone appropriately credentialed. Licensed SLPs hold masters degrees in Speech Language Pathology, indicating extensive knowledge of the speech mechanism, and training in how to thoroughly assess and establish clearly organized accent reduction goals. They focus on teaching good vocal technique and strategies for creating clear, resonant, pleasant, and confident-sounding speech. SLPs are also trained to teach naturalistically, making the process applicable to real-life situations.
Demand one free consultation before you jump into the investment of time and money that is necessary for speech improvement. You need to feel comfortable with your trainer and confident in his/her skills. Personal rapport is important, as is style. Just as you may learn dancing better from one individual over another, it is important that you find the right SLP to teach and encourage you. After all, motivation can waiver from the time you sign up for something with whole-hearted enthusiasm, especially if it is hard work.
Lastly, make sure that your trainer can accommodate your cost, scheduling and location needs. In instances where travel may be difficult, teletherapy through Skype or FaceTime may be possible. All of these matters should be addressed before any commitments are made. Choosing the right speech trainer is an important decision, as you will be investing in something that has the potential to change and remarkably improve your life!