Why Learn to Manage Your Accent?
Do you speak English as another language? Bravo!
Does your accent makes it a challenge to communicate clearly? You are using the sounds and rhythm patterns of your first language when you speak English. Learn to speak English with North American style features. This is known as "Accent Reduction" or "Accent Adjustment".
Should you try to eliminate your accent? Everybody has an accent - there are many ways to speak English clearly! Studies show that foreign accented speech can be clear and easy to understand, as long as certain elements are present. Foreign accented speech shows that you have mastered more than one language, which is an admirable achievement! Be proud of being multi-lingual, while at the same time being confident, effective and clear with your communication using Canadian English.
Do you want to have more confidence when speaking English in social settings and at work? You can learn English pronunciation skills to speak clearly and confidently with clients, colleagues and friends. We will use materials and exercises that matter to you. Individual sessions or small-group format - pick the approach that works best for you and your budget. Once you begin to apply your new English pronunciation skills, others will notice the difference... a definite confidence-booster!
Changing the way you speak begins with understanding how speech is produced. Learn about the structures of the mouth, throat and torso, and how they move and work together to make different kinds of speech sounds. Learn the difference between vowels and consonants. Learn about voiced and unvoiced sounds. Learn about rhythm and stress patterns. Learn about intonation. Learn about gestures and facial expression. Learn, learn, learn...
"Practice" means applying what you've learned. Changing the way you speak means learning new muscle movement patterns. It's similar to learning to play a musical instrument like a guitar, or learning a new sport like tennis. Understanding the theory or "rules of the game" is only part of the process. To progress quickly, you need lessons, coaching and corrective feedback, as well as regular and repeated self-directed practice. Just like with music or sports, you will learn how to practice on your own. Eventually you will begin to use your new skills in daily interactions. During the period you are taking lessons, daily practice is critical (minimum 30 minutes per day - this can be spread over the course of a day). Typically, clients who do their "homework" begin to notice a difference in their spoken English after about 5-6 sessions. Usually, 5-6 more sessions are needed to refine and consolidate skills. With time and attention, new speaking habits will form.
“Oral” means speaking aloud. “Delivery” means your manner or style of speaking. North Americans use a pace and rhythm that is different from many other languages. Eye contact and use of personal space follow certain conventions as well. Learn to put your listener at ease by adopting elements of North American oral delivery.
English speakers depend on changes in voice quality (or tone), loudness and pitch to signal subtle changes in meaning, and even grammatical information. Learn patterns to signal your underlying message and become skillful at "reading between the lines" when listening to your colleagues. Using English effectively may also require a change in nasal resonance or average pitch for more natural sounding English.
Speaking clearly partly depends on using gestures and facial expressions that enhance your message. Learn to use facial movements and gestures like native English speakers do!
WHY DID YOU SPELL “ELOCUTION” THAT FUNNY WAY?
This is known as phonetic spelling. It shows how to say the word. When we say a word like “elocution” in conversation, we relax the unstressed vowels (we say a soft “uh”) , represented by the symbol (/ə/) - this is the most commonly occurring vowel in spoken English. The mark ahead of "kyu" reminds us that this syllable is stressed.
How often do we meet and how long does it take?
Typically, individual sessions are for one-hour and occur weekly or twice monthly to get things started. People usually find they can start to speak more clearly after the first few sessions - they know how to be clearer if someone doesn't understand them. By 8-10 sessions, people can use their clear speech targets more consistently when focused on them. This depends upon doing daily practice, of course! It can take several months to a year before skills become more of a regular habit, with vigilance! People often like to have periodic sessions (every other week or once a month) to consolidate skills during that time.
Everyone has unique abilities in acquiring clear speech in a second language, and your progress may vary from this pattern. Some people like to have a few sessions within a short time frame, then take a break to consolidate skills, resuming studies to advance their skills further when they feel ready. We'll tailor your program to suit your needs.
How does it work?
During the first assessment session, your speech will be recorded and analyzed to identify the most important targets. We will work with you individually to tailor a program that will target skills that will have the most impact quickly. You will learn about high quality resources on the internet, and be provided with materials prepared specifically for you. There is no cost for materials. You will be provided with individualized notes about each session, and your instructions for daily practice, as well as links to related practice material.
What materials do you use?
You don't need to buy a set of CDs or mp3s, but if you have some that you'd like us to use, we can incorporate them. We take an individualized approach. After we analyze your speech patterns, we'll give you material to practice with that will target exactly what you need to make the biggest difference the fastest. You'll learn how to practice with the material, and how to make it more and more challenging until the changes you are trying to make become a habit. We'll show you some internet resources that we think would be best for you to practice with on your own, starting with the basics, and moving to more sophisticated material. We'll use material that you choose to work with - for example, work-related documents for commonly used vocabulary or scripts for public speaking.
Please contact us if you would like to inquire about individualized instruction.
English Pronunciation Classes
Convenient and affordable guidance for improving your pronunciation in a small group setting.
How’s your accent “fitness”?
Are you making a strong first impression?
Want an introduction to accent management principles?
Need a “brush up”?
Not sure you are practicing correctly?
Wondering about good exercises and materials to use?
Want to pack a lot of practice into a short amount time?
Try these intensive small-group “workout” sessions.
- Guided Pronunciation Practice in Conversation
- Pronunciation Tips for the Telephone
- Practice Pronunciation for Presentations
Convenient: Come whenever you like! Come as often as you like!
"I need a brush-up!"
Getting 'rusty'? Need a review? Want some more guided practice and feedback? Join a conversation group, scheduled periodically throughout the year. These fill up quickly, so register early!
“How do the classes run?”
You’ll find muscles you never knew you had! The groups are very interactive and help you establish strong pronunciation skills for conversation. Everyone gets lots of practice during class. Individual corrective feedback is provided throughout. No idle time! Handouts, including recommended resources for independent practice will be provided in class.
“How do I register?”
We admit a maximum of 10 people per class, so don’t miss out - register early! We will send you a confirmation/reminder notice the day before the class, and an hour before, by email. Perhaps invite a friend! We are currently keeping a waiting list. Please use "Ask a Question" above to request to be added.
“Where are the classes?”
Address: 50 Prince Arthur Ave., Suite 104, Toronto ON M5R 1B5
“What does it cost?”
$50 per person per session
Note: Many insurance plans will provide reimbursement for speech-language pathology services. A personalized receipt will be provided with a health provider registration number.
“Can I meet with the instructor 1-on-1?”
The instructor is available for 1-on-1 “personal trainer” sessions (30 minutes) before and after the group session. These appointment times fill up quickly, so book early: contact us. (Tip: bring a recording device, so you can review the session later!)
These times don't work for you?
Contact us and let us know when you can come – we’ll see what we can do!
I teach at the university of Toronto. I work with people who have communication difficulties arising from acquired disorders such as stroke, and provide pronunciation skills training for people speaking English with an accent.
My work experience
I became a Speech-Language Pathologist in 1986. I was drawn to the profession because I could help people overcome the challenges that communication difficulties bring. At first I focused on adult neurogenic rehabilitation, helping people after a stroke or head injury. My experience broadened, encompassing a wide range of settings, from acute care to community-based, and in both public and private sectors. Since the 1990s I have been applying my clinical skills to help people who speak English as a second language. I have broad experience in the area of accent modification, working with groups and individuals in corporate boardrooms and the private practice setting.
My clinical titles have included Senior Speech-Language Pathologist and Clinical Practice Leader. I was a Senior Case Manager (Brain Injury Specialty) within a private practice firm. I am an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in the Graduate Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto. I joined the department in 2003 in response to the department’s need for additional resources to address expanding enrollment. I maintain an active and growing private practice in the areas of neuro-rehabilitation and of accent modification.
As a member of a panel of experts, I helped to develop professional practice guidelines for cognitive communication disorders for CASLPO.
I spearheaded the development of “The Communicators”, a support group for individuals with aphasia and their family members in the Niagara Region, and a similar group for people with laryngectomies.
I facilitated the development of a multi-disciplinary intervention program for people with voice disorders at an out-patient rehabilitation facility.
Throughout my career, I have mentored students and clinical peers in the field of speech-language pathology.
In addition to my clinical experience, I hold a Teacher Training Certificate from the Faculty of Medicine, Continuing Education, at the University of Toronto. I present to local, national and international audiences on topics relating to speech-language pathology education.
To prepare the coming generation of speech-language pathology clinicians for practice in challenging education, healthcare and private practice settings.
To help individuals with neurologically based communication difficulties to achieve their best recovery, no matter time post-onset of symptoms, by applying principles of neuroplasticity and best clinical practices.
To help adults who speak English as a second language learn the skills for speaking clearly and effectively in work and social situations.