Accent Reduction: Aims and Benefits

I don’t love the term ‘accent reduction’ and rarely use it these days.

I prefer to call it English pronunciation training. It’s a practical skill in gaining more  precision and flexibility in the sounds of English.

The work has nothing to do with reducing. It’s about gaining a new skill that can be called on whenever it’s useful. The original accent is still there to use whenever a person likes – the training just offers additional choices.

I like helping people develop new choices, hence the name Vocal Choice! 

Let’s look at the aims and benefits of this work.

Accent Reduction Aims

Some of my clients want to get clearer pronunciation to be understood more easily. Some want their accents to sound as ‘native’ as possible. This is a personal choice.

The first group often get asked to repeat themselves. They want this to happen less. We work on pronunciation points that could cause misunderstanding (things like seat vs sit; thing vs sing; lack vs luck) until the person feels confident that their spoken English is understood clearly by most people most of the time.

In the second group, many want their listeners to focus on their message rather than the way they pronounce words. They want to avoid the constant ‘Where are you from?’

Others consider pronunciation accuracy as integral a part of language learning as grammar and vocabulary. It’s their way of ‘doing the language justice’.

For others still, it’s a long-held dream or just for fun and interest!

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Feelings around accent are deeply individual. Some people feel perfectly comfortable with people commenting on their pronunciation. For them, it’s a fun conversation starter. Others feel less at ease with attention  on their accent. Both are valid, just like all accents and choices are valid.

Accent reduction benefits

The main benefits my clients report are increased confidence, clarity and confidence when speaking English.

Some additional benefits:

Clear accent model

Looking for pronunciation guidance can be confusing! There are so many different accents and a lot of conflicting advice, so it can be hard to know what to aim towards. My clients report that simply having a clear model to aim towards is helpful. It cuts out a lot of confusion. Because we’re in London, we tend to use a Southern British Standard English accent (SBSE) model but we always discuss that first. 

Improved listening comprehension

Working with sound opens up our ears. When we get more awareness and control of how our mouth positions produce vowels and consonants, we hear distinctions we’d never noticed before. This sharpening of the ear means that we can pick out other speakers’ sounds more precisely, so we understand them better. My clients say that they felt at first that native speakers were ‘eating’ their words. After some training, the sound patterns seem much clearer.

Structure and progression

Many of my clients tell me that before starting training, they have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ pronunciation days that they have no control over! Methodical training gives a structure, which gives a sense of control. They are no longer just hoping that pronunciation will go well. They have the practical tools to make sure it does!

Who is accent reduction for?

It’s is not for everyone, and I feel strongly that pronunciation ‘standards’ should never be imposed.

However, for individuals who are genuinely motivated to explore more choice in their pronunciation, whether to improve clarity or aim for a native accent, the training can prove enriching, confidence boosting and even life changing.

If English is an additional language for you and you have this internal motivation, check out my English pronunciation coaching page.

Ready to kick-start your pronunciation journey? Book your free, 20-minute clarity call today.

Sonya Ross

I'm a voice, speech and English pronunciation coach based between London and Hastings, UK, and worldwide online. I help busy international professionals speak clearly, confidently and with impact so that they get their valuable ideas across in the way they intended at work and in life.