Accent Reduction

Our client Liliana, who has an excellent English accent, said that when they first arrived in England from Poland over 8 years ago, they didn’t go to an English language school to learn English, but instead opted to learn English by taking exams. They took degrees in business and law.  Although their knowledge of English was reasonable because of their education in Poland – they had a degree in engineering – it was still very tough, as you would imagine……  At first they’d read a whole page of a text book to get the general meaning, then they’d go through the page word by word looking up every word they didn’t know.  Finally they would read the page for the detailed sense.  This dedication has to be admired.  When they first came to us at Max Your Voice,  their Polish accent was strong, but they applied the same dedication to the spoken English word as they had to the written English word.  With the added help and support of their partner, who was born in London and other friends with contemporary English accents, she succeeded.  You can’t detect any accent in her spoken English.

Some people get along really well without needing to get rid of their strong native accent.  It’s only  when their children reach school age and they want to have conversations in English with them, that they start to want to perfect an English accent.

Others want to fast track their careers.  It could be that they’re in business supplying services to people from their mother country.  They need only their mother tongue when they’re talking with their clients, but when they have to talk in English in front of their clients, then they need to express themselves clearly and efficiently in English.

There are Max Your Voice clients and course participants, who need to talk with brevity and clarity because of the extreme need to be accurate and fast with their information.  These clients tend to be in the area of banking and finance.  Most of our clients in this arena learn English pronunciation and then continue with us on to more specialised training such as our Presentation and Communication in Management courses.

Whatever reasons bring clients to us for accent reduction/clarity of spoken English training –  we respect their needs and work with them to achieve their goals.  For some it can be more challenging, but in the end they seem to be the ones who achieve the most.   Once the initial phase of relaxation and lip, tongue, jaw and teeth coordination is achieved – it’s a matter of targeting and fixing spoken cues until the new rhythms and sounds take root. With the help of our Speak English Clearly downloads and CDs and our free Skype sessions – there’s nothing to stop you from achieving a really clear standard contemporary English accent.

Next 2 day intensive – October 19th and 20th 2013

Skype sessions available to book.

Click on our Course page at the top and the Speak English Clearly course page is there for you to find out more.

Speak English Clearly Evening Group Participants


Does Your Voice Betray Your Years?

I came across the article below written by Lynne Wallis for the Daily Mail when I was researching botox treatment for dysphonia.

“When I hit 50 over a year ago, I began doing everything possible to halt the ageing process. I intensified my exercise regime, began using expensive anti-ageing creams, cut down on alcohol, started eating more healthily and had my hair dyed professionally instead of doing it at home over the bathroom sink.

Then I realised something. Was I imagining it, or was my voice starting to betray my age? To me it sounded deeper, as well as reedy and a bit crackly.

Friends kept asking if I had a cold, then one day a man in a call centre began speaking to me in that rather deliberate way people in their 20s talk to people over 50. I’d been rumbled.

What use were smooth skin and glossy hair if my voice screamed — or rather croaked — ‘old biddy’?

As a journalist, I spend lots of time on the phone, and am also a semi-professional jazz singer, so it’s very important for me to sound good. I quit smoking three years ago and it just didn’t seem fair that I was now croaky. I wanted to be clear and bell-like again.

Surely someone, somewhere could help me? After all, there are now specific treatments for everything from ninkles (knee wrinkles) to cankles (fat ankles).

Sure enough, after trawling the internet, I found out that in America some women are having surgery to rejuvenate their vocal cords — ‘voicelifts’, if you will.

The treatment isn’t yet available in the UK for cosmetic purposes, but luckily, I also unearthed an article about a consultant in London who helps people keep their voices sounding young and healthy.”

The consultant turns out to be John Rubin who is our consultant specialist at Max Your Voice and it makes interesting reading if you click on the link below.  Students on the MA Voice course at Central have mentioned to me that they are amazed at how young and vital the voices of voice coaches aged 80 plus sound.  There is a great deal to be said for all the exercises that voice coaches give.  The main thing is that it gives your voice flexibility and ease.  A wonderful example of this is Rona Laurie who has been a voice coach for over 45 years.

Rona Laurie


Read more:


Public Speaking – 2 Valuable Tips

Next workshop – October 5th

Gave an Improve Your Voice by 90% workshop today, which is always a good experience.  There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing people’s voices blossom.   This workshop is based on Grotowski’s research into the voice.  I studied at the Grotowski Centre in Italy for which I received an award.   Today we had an observer, who is a theatre director.  They asked and I agreed, if they could use a couple of things that came up during the workshop.  These points are helpful to people in business as much as they are to people in the acting profession:

Your Voice is a Beam of Sound

The voice is made up of particles as is light.  If you beam it in the direction you want it to go then it will get there.  Before you begin a talk, lecture or speech, choose the first place/person that you are going to direct your voice to.  Avoid changing the direction of your vocal beam mid-flow, give your vocal attention to individuals/individual places, changing direction in a deliberate and inclusive way along with your words.

Allow People to Listen to You in Comfort

Avoid staring directly into a person’s eyes when you speak in public.  Address people individually using your voice as a beam of sound but avoid the fixed eye contact.  Anyone who’s been called into a Head’s study will remember that there are few things more disconcerting than being transfixed by the stare of a speaker as they talk to you eyeball to eyeball.   If you’re speaking in public, this can give you the “frozen face” syndrome.  Instead, look into the eyebrows of the person you’re directing your voice to, or take in the outline of their face.  Try looking into someone’s eyebrows and you’ll find that they feel that they are having eye contact with you anyway.

Improve Your Voice by 90% – Next course is on October 5th.  See Courses for more details.
2013-03-05 19.04.02


The Financial Times’ Videos

For some time now I’ve preferred going on to the Financial Times page to look at the videos, rather than to listen or to watch the regular news channels.   Not only is the journalism understandable, succinct  and really interesting, the speech of the journalists is clear and easily understood.  The voices of the journalists are also varied.   James Mackintosh gave a brilliant presentation on the LTRO effect today, however he hasn’t rid himself of the lip pursing “kiss” verbal punctuation yet.  He doesn’t do it when he’s had more time to prepare.  This happens when people are clear in their head about points they need to cover and it signifies a kind of verbal tick when they’ve covered the point.

John Auther delivers a very good presentation on “Euro – Speaking the Unthinkable”.  He has a great vocal profile and only occasionally hits words rather than accentuating them.  My favourite speaker today is Andrew Parker on “Asian Airlines Boost Aviation”.


Essex school gives pupils elocution lessons to lose their accents


My thanks to Paul Carroll for sending me the following from the Daily Telegraph:

“Pupils at Cherry Tree Primary School, in Basildon, are being taught to ditch their Essex accents during weekly lessons from a private tutor.

Teachers say they have seen a vast improvement in their pupils’ spelling and writing since the lessons were introduced – with some parents even admitting they are now corrected on their pronunciation at home by their own children.

The Essex accent has been thrown under the spotlight around the country following the success of the reality TV show The Only Way is Essex.

However, Terri Chudleigh, English literacy coordinator, who first came up with the idea, said: “This is not about being ashamed of the Essex accent. I have an Essex accent and there’s nothing wrong with it.

“It’s about helping the children to speak properly so they can improve their reading and writing and obviously have a better education.”

I’m sure it will help these children when they have to do Shakespeare and Chaucer at GCSE level. It will also help them when they’re learning to speak other languages. It will bring the group together.  Well done Cherry Trees and Terri Chudleigh – so much better than parents giving their 8 year olds private elocution lessons which can sometimes lead children to be confused about status.  The Essex accent is a light accent sometimes described as a “flick accent” because of its rhythm, so learning a contemporary English accent will develop the children’s ability to listen.

We have clients coming to us for a contemporary standard English accent when their children reach school age and they want to have conversations with them in a contemporary standard English accent.

Next courses in contemporary standard English

March 3rd and 4th – Intensive

March 6th – the 6 week evening course



martha marcy may marlene


A really scary movie with more hooks than M&S.  Beautifully shot and edited.  Once you make the jump into the flashbacks of the main character played by Elizabeth Olsen, you’re hooked in and always on edge wondering what is going to happen next!

It feeds on the Manson cult terror story and the preying of manic controllers on young people. The ending received a groan from the audience – I’m hoping it’s the beginning of the next film.

Elizabeth Olsen is stunningly good as Martha – it’s hard to believe that this is her debut film.  Her sister’s Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen are rightly very proud.  They are both so talented in their own right, but it seems that they’ve had so many people dependant on them throughout their lives, that their work, up until now, has done them few favours artistically.  I hope that we’ll see some really great work from them too, soon – on the production and acting front.