Accent Reduction Snake Oil

“speak accent free!”

“speak without an accent!”

“eliminate your accent!”

“lose your accent!”

“hypnosis for accent reduction”

These are just some of the claims you might hear from less than reputable accent reduction companies and web sites.  Often times, these fly-by-night companies are nothing more than a person who read a book on accent reduction and wants to charge you big money for their supposed “expertise.”

Others try to sell an array or accent modification products that promise the impossible. The following is a list of products that people try to sell and what you should be aware of before you purchase such a service or product.

Accent Reduction eBooks / free or for pay accent reduction PDF – These are often given away as part of promotional offers for other products and services.  There is nothing wrong with gleaning some valuable information from such sources.  More often than not the quality of material isn’t that high and they read like advertisements for other products.  I’ve yet to meet anyone who has significantly improved their accent using one of these e-books or PDFs.

Accent Reduction CDs, MP3s, Tapes, or Audio Books – Cd’s, MP3s, and audio books can offer a good start.  Hearing correct English pronunciation slowed down can be a tremendous help.  Listening to correct English can make a speaker more aware of correct sounds and of sounds they are mis-articulating.  After a while most serious students become interested in seeking an accent modification class or plateau with this method.  Tapes are obviously out of date and don’t have the audio quality necessary  for accent reduction.

Accent Reduction Software Free Download – There is a high level of variance in the quality of such programs.  Software packages are normally very expensive and either don’t offer trials or offer extremely limited free trials.  Once someone is interested in spending a few hundred dollars on software it’s often more beneficial to enroll in an accent reduction class.

Accent Reduction DVD/download accent reduction videos – This method allows for the exchange of vital visual information that so important in learning a standard American accent.  These videos are often high quality but lack a little in production quality, which is of no consequence to their educational value.  They can be very costly often times just as expensive, if not more, than personal instruction.  Once again, these videos lack the personalization of instruction, evaluation, and feedback that’s necessary to truly improve.

Accent Reduction apps – The ability to learn on the go is quite attractive.  Again, the first problem with an app is that no person is involved so don’t have the opportunity to have an evaluation.  Without an evaluation you won’t be aware of all the sounds your mispronouncing and what you can do to improve.  Additionally, watch out for apps that try to sell you sound by sound.  A two dollar app per sound (phoneme) might sound inexpensive but the cost of purchasing 15-20 of these ‘mini’ accent reduction apps can add up.

Hypnosis for Accent Reduction – I actually recently added this entry after this site received a number of searches for a variety of hypnosis products. Hypnosis to improve you accent doesn’t work and it doesn’t work for other things like weight loss or addiction. See this article from the Standford School of Medicine for more information I’m surprised that people still think that this works – sorry the only real way to learn a new skill or improve is through hard work!

Accent Reduction lessons via Skype / the internet – This method has incredible potential to offer one-on-one instruction, personalization, and convenience.  Things to consider when choosing this method are A) reputation of the company and their quality of instruction B) audio quality C) if video instruction is offered and at what quality.  Poor video quality and connection speed are crucial when trying to accurately demonstrate articulations over the internet.