Many of the patients seen by Speech Pathologists are provided with what is known as accent modification or accent reduction therapy. Everyone has a different accent depending on where they first learned to speak their mother tongue. Each language has its own specific sounds and these may differ from English in a number of ways.
The biggest difference between accents, especially between different English accents is the vowels that are produced within each accent. For example in Australian English the ‘a’ in the word ‘cat’ is short. However, in American English the sound is elongated. Similarly in Australian English the ‘i’ in the word ‘mix’ is produced with a small opening of the mouth whereas in New Zealand the accent changes this sound to more of an Australian ‘e’ which makes it sound more like the word ‘mex’.
For people learning English as a second language, there may be subtle differences in the way they produce consonants as well. For example, the ‘g’ and ‘k’ sounds having a glottal quality, coming from the throat, in Arabic accents when compared to English. A number of languages other than English produce a different type of ‘r’ sound known as a trill, which is made by rolling the tongue to produce repetitions of ‘r’ in quick succession. The most difficult accents to modify are cases where two sounds in one language are recognised as a single sound in another language. For example, in English the sounds of ‘v’ and ‘w’ are recognised as 2 sounds, however in Farsi a combination of the two sounds are recognised as only one sound.
The number and type of differences, vowel or consonant, determine how intelligible a person is to a native speaker of the language they are producing. In order to reduce an accent, the correct position and production of the sounds are taught and integrated into the individual’s conversational speech to assist in improving their communication.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have speech pathology related questions, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.