What is Foreign Accent?


I have mentioned in previous blogs that my husband is Israeli. He works in a high tech company and was recently promoted to a position where he will be traveling abroad and representing the company at different international meetings.

Now is he is worried about how he will sound. He speaks English well. Or maybe I have gotten used to how he speaks over the years. He tells me that his collegues say, he does not speak clearly, sounds "too Israeli" when he speaks English.He is frustrated at having to repeat himself, and that people are focusing on his accent more than what he is trying to say. He does not use sounds that are common in English, but do not exist in Hebrew , such as /w/ and /ch/ and /th/. He is worried he will lose his job.

So he went to see a speech therapist. She gave him a through evaluation of his individual speech pattern. This included sound pronunciation as well as stress, rhythm and intonation of speech. She empahsized that speaking with an accent is not a disorder. She began to work with him on accent-reduction, or accent- modification. She recorded his speech and compared his speech to the style of speaking he wanted to imitated. The they set goals and he has spent hours building different vowel patterns and consonant sounds into his converasaton.

He also practices thythm and intonation. It has been at least three months of hard work, and he is very motivated. He has also learned that an accent is a speech pattern, not a speech problem. All of us have accents. He is learning to communicate in English with clarity, and this helps his self-esteem.

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