Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Accent Reduction or Elimination?

In one of my surveys on accent, I ask visitors whether they thought it were possible to completely eliminate one's accent when learning English, and I was somewhat surprised at the number of people who really think it is impossible. In fact, in my 20 years of teaching ESL, I have come to realize that accent elimination, contrary to what some might think, is nearly impossible for most people. On the other hand, reducing accent and improving comprehensibility is quite possible, and this should be the goal of most students. Unless students have realistic expectations on how much they can reduce their accents, they will always feel discouraged. So, what is your opinion on this topic?



  1. I've just discovered this blog and am delighted about it, as well as about the site - thank you!
    As a teacher of English, I find this topic very interesting because my personal expectations (I'm easier on my students :)) are rather high in every respect. Last summer I spent three weeks in England for the first time in my life and I was told I almost had no accent (no one believed me it had been my first time there). I thought this was great, but still I'd REALLY love to eliminate the 'almost'from that praise. I do think it's possible for some people because my phonology lecturer from university really sounded perfectly British, and not only to us, the students in Serbia, but to the English as well.
    However, I do agree that accent reduction should be the goal in general. Having a bit of an accent can even be seen as a cute personal touch!

  2. I agree whole heartedly that an accent can be 'softened' but not eliminated. But then why try to eliminate an accent?

    Your accent is part of you. But it does make good social and business sense to modify your accent to improve your communication skills.

    As a Business Communication Specialist and Speech Pathologist, I coach many people with the desire to improve their job skills and opportunities by improving their ability to be understood.

    Work hard to soften how you sound but don't drive yourself nuts trying to extinguish your accent!

    Don Harris
    Business Communication Specialist

  3. The latest research in second language pronunciation acquisiton states that in order to speak a second language without an accent, one should have lived in the country of the second language by six years old.

    Karen Yates
    Global English Training


Thanks for posting a comment. I appreciate your interesting in sharing your ideas.



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