Accent Neutralisation & Reduction

Francis Parkes with a student

Accent reduction and Accent Neutralisation are terms that have been used by Corporate organisations for the past 6 years or so. We use them as well because people looking for clarity of English courses are Googling Accent Neutralisation and Accent reduction. It sometimes strikes me as strange though, because I, like all voice coaches, like to hear full and vibrant voices and the idea of people neutralising or reducing their accents seems to be taking the life from people’s voice and speech rather breathing life into people’s voice and speech. I don’t like the idea of dumbing down an accent with all the watering down of vocal personality that this implies. Rather, I like to up peoples’ ability to enjoy the sensation of speaking English in a way that they can be understood internationally. The course that I researched and devised is about just that – speaking English Clearly. It’s desirable to express yourself freely when speaking English even though it may be your second language. Accents can enhance our speech – it’s not your accent, it’s the way you use your accent that matters. If the way you use your accent blurs the sense and clarity of what you’re saying then that’s not good. When your accent attracts the listener to pay more attention to what you’re saying, then that’s good.

Max Your Voice StudentsEveryone is different, Everyone has a unique voice which gives them a unique vocal profile. At Max Your Voice we work with a persons whole vocal profile. The end result is of course clear speech but the voice has to go through different processes to be made, before coming into the mouth to be shaped by the movement of the mouth, tongue and lips into sounds.

English is a language that is spoken all over the world. Some people may speak English with a drop dead gorgeous voice, but that is no good if people cannot understand the words they are saying. And it is no good having perfectly clear diction and saying the words clearly in English, when no one can hear you because your voice is not audible. It is also no good having a wonderful voice and speaking English with perfect diction when the words you are saying are vapid and empty and in no way connect with your thoughts.

This is why here at Max Your Voice we give attention to the whole of your vocal profile – meaning all the aspects of your voice and speech that create the overall sound. Many features including pitch (intonation), rhythm, and speed are addressed when we work with clients. Overall confidence increases with the ability to release your voice into clear speech.

I am often asked about phonetic symbols and how many we work with and looking at page 65 of our Speak English Clearly manual guide which accompanies our course and I can see that there are 27. Of these 27 – 14 are single vowel sounds, the rest are made up of simple combinations, so you can understand how important it is to have the building blocks of the single vowel sounds in place. Phonetic symbols are also a useful tool to really help people identify the sounds in written English and transpose them into spoken English.

Speak English Clearly CD SetOther people ask me how long it takes. Obviously, the better your knowledge of English the easier it will be. Some people have a natural drive to succeed in communication and these people take less time to master the different sounds of standard English. They will telephone and Skype frequently to ask whether it is this sound or that sound that goes in this particular word. Others need more time. Once you know your target sounds and have mastered them, you can put the rest of the sounds into the overall jigsaw. You will get really good results after 3 months, providing you keep practicing using the Speak English Clearly book and the CDs.

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