An Inside Look at Accent Modification
AN EYE-OPENING BOOK BY ACCENT ACE
Dear Readers, If you think like most global citizens, you know that English is at the heart of international communication. Over the last 30 years, a tremendous number of people worldwide have been studying English to increase their opportunities for professional success. According to the British Council, the United Kingdom’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations, there have been as many as 1 billion people studying English as a second language since the year 2000.1 Yet, multi-national organizations feel the pain of cross-cultural communication effectiveness. Service providers are being employed to help increase the language skills of the global workforce which leads to improved reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar, and speaking and listening. This is important because we all know that without these strong skills, we can get lost in the conversation. We need industry-specific terms to help us in our conference calls; we need a variety of grammatical structures in order to give dynamic presentations; and we need high-level comprehension skills to follow the nuances found in both social and business dialogues. In order to really succeed in business, however, second language English speakers need more than the basic competencies to compete. They need English skills that get them understood. That means learning the accent. Having a proficiency in the rhythm and intonation patterns of English leads to a much more confident communicator which helps lessen gaps of differences amongst cultures.
In this eBook, you will be introduced to the difference between a pronunciation class that focuses on the articulation of consonants and vowels and an accent program that builds communication effectiveness. You will identify key habits of successful language learners; understand major setbacks for adult students; learn the role music plays in your speaking success; get a glimpse at market research related to your return on investment; and be introduced to tips and tools that can lead you to American English speaking skills that will set you apart from the average non-native English speaker. Thank you for downloading our eBook. I truly hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it. Best regards,
Jill Diamond President & Founder of ACCENT ACE SM
Table of Contents 1.
Accent vs. Pronunciation
The Glass Ceiling
Top Five Setbacks in Adult Language Learning
Habits of Highly Successful Language Learners
How to Avoid Setbacks
Key ACCENT ACE Concepts
Accent Modification Tips
Return on Investment
Who We Are
What We Offer
About ACCENT ACE
There is a confident way to speak English.
© 2014 Accent Ace, Inc. 245 East 24th Street, Suite 17J, New York, New York, 10010. 212-206-3900. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission from Accent Ace, Inc.
Accent vs. Pronunciation
Placing too much emphasis on how a word is articulated can slow down language learning for beginners. However, acquiring knowledge about intonation and rhythm patterns at early stages can be quite beneficial. This is where the difference between accent and pronunciation is key.
Pronunciation refers to the sounds and enunciation of the language while accent examines the rhythm, stress and intonation patterns of words, phrases and ultimately communication. Spending too much time on pronunciation can absolutely be frustrating and even boring. But, applying the right amount of time to accent, the musical elements of the language, can boost your confidence and have native English speakers thinking you are more fluent than you may actually be. What is accent exactly? According to The New Oxford Dictionary, the sociolinguistic definition is “A manner of pronunciation specific to a particular individual, location, or nation.” Sometimes this kind of accent is referred to as a dialect which includes idiomatic expressions, language structure and pronunciation specific to a region. The phonetic definition, however, refers to the prosody or rhythm of a language. It also includes intonation.
When you focus your studies on the rhythm and intonation of American English, you learn how the language sounds, not just how it works. Native English speakers know this intuitively because they are surrounded by the music of their language from birth. They hear it in the conversations around them and on the radio, television, and social media sites that create the backdrop of their environments. As pointed out by Maria-Josep Solé, Professor of English Phonetics and Linguistics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, “As long as the rhythm of your words is correct,” for example by placing the stress on the first syllable in the word manager instead of the second, “native speakers can more easily understand your spoken English even with incorrectly pronounced sounds.” 2 Let’s be clear—pronunciation cannot be ignored. However, it cannot be the focus of your accent modification training if you are looking to be truly effective in your English communication.
It is important to note that an accent modification class should never aim to eliminate your accent.�Not only is it extremely difficult to do, but it also strips you of your culture.�� Learn the rhythm and intonation of American English and you will gain the confidence you need to communicate more broadly and clearly with your colleagues and native-speaking friends.
The Glass Ceiling Imagine this…
You have been living in the United States for thirty years after emigrating from Russia. Or China. Or Argentina. You've been working for a U.S. multinational bank for most of your career. You've made it somewhat up the ranks, but not as far as you know you can. And the main reason you believe you hit the glass ceiling was not because you were a woman or because you weren't brilliant, but because of your accent. You weren't perceived to be as capable of becoming the next Vice President as Charlie was. He's from New Jersey. (And by the way, Charlie’s got an accent too, but it's regional.) The truth is, you’re as capable as Charlie and perhaps even more so. But, decision-makers who hold your career in their hands may have some bias. It is unlikely that they know that they do. However, research has shown that when someone speaks with a foreign accent, it diminishes a level of trust and believability.3 While you try to accept that your accent makes you an outsider, it hurts just the same. And, not just emotionally. It hurts your sense of recognition; it hurts your feelings of respect; and it can hurt you monetarily.
Biases are real and we all need to understand how they interfere with our inter-cultural communication. We have to take steps to meet each other halfway. Americans can do that by learning more about the languages of their non-native English-speaking colleagues. They can begin to learn the musical patterns of their language and understand how they superimpose their native language rhythm and intonation onto English. Non-native English speakers can take steps to build their communication confidence and effectiveness through accent training. Being proactive in these ways can build a necessary bridge between cultures that, if un-built, will always keep us in separate conversations.
“For well-qualified non-native English speakers, invisible barriers remain a fact of life. Many people perceive non-native speakers as less politically skilled than others and therefore lacking the influence needed to be successful leaders or advocates.” Harvard Business Review
Without shifting the paradigm of how foreign nationals are seen by native English speakers, all second language English speakers will continue to face an uphill battle in their quest to achieve professional success.
Top Five Setbacks in Adult Language Learning Motivation "Why am I doing this?" Frustration "I still have trouble being understood."
Time "I don't have any to spare."
Native Language "It all seems backwards to me." WARNING: When adopting a new skill, it is easy to feel like you are getting worse before you get better—the “one step forward, two steps back” syndrome. Making improvements to your accent may cause you to hesitate before you speak. That’s ok. In fact, it is good. If you didn’t have a new awareness, you probably wouldn’t be manifesting change. Two steps backwards will never mean you can't attain three steps forward.
Support "No one I know is taking this class."
10 Habits of Highly Successful Language Learners San Francisco-based technology company is a multinational organization that designs, manufactures, and sells networking equipment. With sales representatives all over the world, they SM sought out the expertise of ACCENT ACE to increase their international business communication. Working in groups of 12 learners and two instructors, we were able to shift hundreds of professionals’ thinking about English to include accent skill as a key communication attribute. Having worked with them since 2002, we continually train new participants with both our traditional and online courses. 1. Seize the day: Learn every day. You must take responsibility for your own learning. Don’t shy away from small talk and daily conversations with colleagues and native English-speaking friends. Ask for feedback from someone you trust today. 2. Get creative to stay motivated: “Music that we perceive as pleasurable releases dopamine into our system.” 5 That means we are going to feel happy and motivated. Music has been linked to successful language learning and more importantly can help with your accent. 3. Read, read and read some more: Read in English to identify vocabulary that is either new or that you don’t know how to pronounce. Say the challenging words out loud and start a list of the ones you want to improve. Try this link for reading material: www.voanews.com. 4. Record new vocabulary: Make it a habit to record and listen to the vocabulary words that you want to remember. You can write a simple sentence next to the word to help you remember the meaning in context. Your brain will easily recall it once it understands how to use it. 6
5. Be fearless: Easier said than done, right?! As children we learn from our mistakes. As adults we need to remember that we learn from our mistakes. Don’t shy away from saying what you need to say even if it doesn’t come out perfectly. Use your charm and courage to make up for your imperfections.
6. Use technology: You can listen to the pronunciation of a word so easily today. Just go to www.dictionary.com. Or try some of the great language apps out there while you are on the train. One of our favorites is Duolingo.
7. Set realistic goals: Make sure your goals are measurable, simple and effective. For example, once a week, listen to a podcast in English on a subject that interests you or agree to head your next department meeting. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you will commit to with little effort. 8. Measure progress: Set benchmarks that you can check off as you go. Write one hard-to-pronounce word a day on a Post-It Note and put it on your computer. Use the word at least three times. A habit like this will help you stay on track. 9. Match your learning environment to your learning style: Use and engage in what works for you. Anything else can be counterproductive. And if you don’t know what kind of learner you are, click here to find out. SM
10. Pat yourself on the back: Happy with the way you performed in class? Celebrate it with a night out with friends! Listen to a record! Go dancing! Acknowledge your progress!
How to Avoid Setbacks Setback
Habit of Highly Successful Language Learners refer to page 4
Time: “I don’t have any to spare.”
Remember to set realistic goals (#7) and spend just 5 minutes a day reviewing what you’ve learned.
Frustration: “I still have trouble being understood.”
Read and record new vocabulary (#4) in order to identify one aspect of your language that needs improvement.
Motivation: “Why am I doing this?”
Do you like music? (#2) Find the lyrics to your favorite tune and sing along. It might not feel like studying.
Native Language: “It all seems backwards to me.”
If you don’t already know the primary differences between your language and English, use technology (#6) to learn what they are. Here is a site where you can learn.
Support: “No one I know is taking this class.”
Find an online forum of language learners or go on your company's social media platform and make it a priority to engage in conversations regularly (#6).
Whatever you do, remember why you started your communication initiative. It can mean the difference between perseverance and giving up on your new skills.
Key ACCENT ACE Concepts SM
Sound: Articulation is a very important component of having a good American accent. Make sure you learn how to pronounce the vowel sounds correctly and apply them to stressed syllables. Then, you can move onto the consonants. Syllable: Rhythm plays one of the most important roles in using an accent well. Be sure to learn the number of syllables and stressed syllables in order to speak accurately. It will affect how native speakers comprehend you. Word: Emphasis of words within a sentence or phrase are so crucial to the rhythm of a language. In fact, native speakers can more easily correct your pronunciation errors as long as you speak with the right rhythm. Know which words get emphasized and which get deemphasized. Sentence: Intonation is at the heart of saying a sentence proficiently. It is the second most important element of accent after rhythm. There are five sentence types in English and knowing the melody of each will help you sound more native-like in your speech (see page 10 for more). Thought Chunk: Pausing and rate of speech are the easiest and quickest way to adjust your spoken English. Think of this as the punctuation in your speech and start adding confidence to your voice. Flow: Native English speakers have many ways of connecting their words and creating fluency. Contractions and reductions are just two techniques we use to create flow and draw our listeners’ attention towards the key words. L2 Communication: There is both prepared and spontaneous speech. Both require confidence. Understanding and using the ACCENT ACE SM concepts correctly can help you achieve communication effectiveness.
Communication is at the core of your accent training. SM All of the ACCENT ACE concepts support your communication.
Three speaking concepts every non-native English speaker struggles with: 1. The rising tone on statements 2. The stressed syllable in words 3. The speed of speech
“From a developmental perspective, we argue that music comes first and language arises from music.” 7
A U.S. based financial institution with a large global presence has been contracting ACCENT ACE SM since 1999 to assist their high potentials with their language skills. Correct use of rhythm and intonation patterns of English has increased their communication effectiveness across geographical regions.
Rhythm Music is comprised of notes that create its rhythm. Notes have different values but the four basic notes for our purpose are:
Every language has its unique musical patterns that make up its accent. The three main musical components for the purpose of accent training are:
• Rhythm • Melody • Pausing To help you understand the correlation between music and language, listen to popular songs to practice the elements you will learn in this brief music lesson.
The Whole Note | The Half Note | The Quarter Note | The Eighth Note
The whole note is held for four counts. The half note is held for two. The quarter note is held for one, and the eighth note is held for half a count. We can apply these note values to our speech by the length of time we hold a syllable in a word. Stressed syllables get a longer value. Unstressed syllables a shorter value. We don’t use the four musical notes as precisely in speech as we do in music, but we certainly could if we wanted to. It is best to think of half a beat (the eighth note) for unstressed syllables and one beat (the quarter note) for stressed syllables. Here is a musical notation of the word manager:
Ma • na • ger
When teaching the rhythm of English, we use simple dashes and dots to indicate the stressed versus unstressed syllables. The first syllable of the word manager is long and the last two are short. We can illustrate that like this:
Ma • na • ger
Melody After rhythm, comes melody. In music we have the scales and keys. Each scale has eight notes. Every scale represents a key. Some keys sound joyful while others are melancholic. We will just concern ourselves with the most neutral sounding key—C Major. Let’s have a look at the eight notes that comprise its scale: C major key scale
When most people speak, they use about four notes with their voice. However, it is important to say that a dynamic speaker will emphasize words by using as many as eight notes. In accent training, you learn to step up and down a scale, skipping over notes; or you learn how to glide through notes, intoning each note as you move up or down the scale. For example, statements have a melody that steps up on the focus word and glides down on the same word to end the statement in the affirmative. YES/NO questions on the other hand, have an upward, gliding inflection at the end of the sentence to let others know you have asked a question. By using melody correctly in your speech, you begin to indicate the correct intonation patterns of words and sentences.
Try this exercise to practice the use of scales.
A Connecticut based pharmaceutical company with a rich team of international scientists consistently contacts ACCENT ACE SM to help their teams increase their communication skills in both private and group settings. Working with clinical minds, ACCENT ACE SM has been able to successfully transmit the critical musical components of accent that allow for these scientists to move beyond the lab and into public speaking roles.
Pause Finally, we have the pause or rest note, as we say in musical terms. Pauses are essential to clear messaging. They communicate the punctuation in our sentences. Let’s look at the musical rest notes and show you how they are used in your speech.
The Whole Note Rest | The Half Note Rest | The Quarter Note Rest (Four counts of silence)
(Two counts of silence)
(One count of silence)
If the musician rushes through any of the rests, there is the potential to create chaos amongst the other musicians. The silent notes are part of the composition. They are never overlooked. The same has to be true in our speech. Pausing indicates confidence and helps both the speaker and the listener to concentrate. See how the quarter note rest is used after a comma and the half note rest is used after the period:
When the manager got to the meeting, the presentation had already begun. One slash (/) equals one count of silence, two slashes (//) represent two counts of silence and three slashes (///) can indicate three or more counts of silence. See how they are simply used here:
When the manager got to the meeting, / the presentation had already begun. // We don’t need to take our musical lesson any further in order for you to start to apply these simple terms to your American English. In fact, we can summarize For more information about the relationship between SM what you’ve just learned like this: Indicate your stressed syllables and words by music and accent, read some ACCENT ACE making them longer. Use rising and falling tone appropriately by knowing the blogposts: five sentence types in English. (See this YouTube video to learn them.) And, pause long enough between words and sentences in order to communiRhythm Is The Heart of Language • Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose cate your thoughts clearly. Think about yourself as the conductor of an orchesFinish That Thought • Morse Code tra and let music influence the way you speak American English.
Accent Modification Tips
Three Steps to Improving Your Accent • Learn the foundational accent concepts behind effective American English communication.
• Create a practice consisting of 1-3 minute daily exercises; 5-10 minute weekly exercises; and 30-60 minute monthly exercises.
• Mimic native speakers on the radio, television and Internet sites like Ted, Voice of America and American Rhetoric.
How to Ask for Feedback from Native Speakers • Join Toastmasters where people are there to tell you what they think.
Four Tips for Slowing Down Your Speech • Listen to your voice as you speak. • Remember to pause after key words. • Take a noticeable breath during each pause.
• Lengthen key words to vary the rhythm of your speech.
Building a Support Group • Find like-minded peers who have similar communication challenges as you. • Ask if they’d like to create a study group. • Set up weekly meetings.
• Find an accent reduction Meetup Group in your city.
• Choose a leader each meeting to send out an exercise and then lead the group that week to explore specific best practices in accent modification.
• Sign up on a social media site for language learners.
• Invite a native English speaker to join the group once a month. • Don’t just study, socialize as a way to build trust and momentum in the group.
Return on Investment “According to a global report from April 2012, almost half of executives, of which 572 were surveyed, admit that communication misunderstandings and messages lost in translation have stood in the way of major international business deals and resulted in significant losses for their company.” The Economist Intelligence
“Effective employee communication is a leading indicator of financial performance. Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders compared with firms that are the least effective communicators." Tower Watson
“A study in the Journal of International Business Studies found that negative attributions about task competence based on language fluency directly influenced�team members’ judgments about each other’s trustworthiness, thereby mediating between language barriers and perceptions of trustworthiness.” Journal of International Business Studies
“While blogging about the importance of intercultural communication training to the global workforce, John Sinden Jr of the Association for Talent Development states, ‘Communication is key since subtle differences in language can have a big impact on how negotiation messages are given and received.” Association for Talent Development (ATD) 11
Congratulations! You made it through Communication Confidence: An Inside Look at Accent Modification. For more information about the author and ACCENT ACE, continue onto the next pages. SM
Thank you for reading! Sign Up
Like Our Page
Who we are Jill Diamond: Author Jill has a background in performance, education and business and has been working as an Accent Modification and Communication Specialist since 1993. Jill’s training as an actor and singer along with her Masters in Education from Lesley University allows her to deliver speaking tools with precision and a level of creativity that has made her an expert facilitator and leader in her field. Her aspiration to build communication pathways between speakers of different languages has SM led her to create The ACCENT ACE Program. Jill knows that mastering a second language is one thing and that communicating in it is another.
Malena Agin: Contributor Malena has been working in the field of applied linguistics since graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a Masters in Languages and Linguistics in 2005. She specializes in dialects and phonology. Malena has worked in a variety of capacities in the field ranging from translator to teacher to business professional. Currently, she works as the Head of Research and Development for Special SM Projects at ACCENT ACE. Being born in Argentina, Malena brings her bilingual and bicultural knowhow to everyday operations.
Designed!by: Leigh Roach IDEAist Designs | www.ideaistdesigns.com
What We Offer The ACCENT ACE Program SM
The ACCENT ACE Program develops verbal confidence and vocal presence in non-native English speakers by actively engaging them in the rhythms and melodies of American English. Second language speakers are introduced to necessary communication tools that directly impact their efforts towards professional success. Different from a pronunciation class, the primary focus of The ACCENT ACE SM Program is on rhythm, intonation and pausing. This is precisely what can lead speakers to dramatic results and communication confidence. SM
All of the ACCENT ACE offerings are available in a traditional classroom setting as follows: • Private Classes • Group Classes • Workshops (half or whole day) • Company Lunch & Learns
The Accentation program trains professionals in the skills necessary for strong public speaking. It compliments our accent training by adding in the non-verbal and organizational elements of communication. It is also available for native English speakers.
The ACCENT ACE Program is also available online in the following ways:
• Virtual Self-Study Basic (coming in 2015)
Native English speakers can increase their communication competency and build an appreciation for their multi-cultural English speaking peers, by learning the rhythm and intonation patterns they may superimpose onto their English through this effective training.
• Blended Online Class
• Virtual Self-Study Extended (coming in 2015) • Phone or Skype Coaching
The Confident Way To Speak English
Contact [email protected]
About ACCENT ACE
Our Act On It! Methodology
ACCENT ACE SM has a rich history as a language and communication skills company. We first opened in 1997 under the name Lemond Language Consulting where we provided intensive English immersion programs in New York City to Japanese and French Professionals and traveled all over Europe, India and South America to deliver our accent modification program to groups. In 2005, our original partners split and under the direction of Jill Diamond, the New York City based company became known as Lanartco. At that time, Lanartco had developed its accent modification train-the-trainer program and was engaged in several corporate contracts that expanded our foreign language instruction and translation & interpreting divisions. 2009 brought new and exciting opportunities to the company with online learning complimenting traditional in-person training. In order to keep up with the educational trends, we did two things: Expanded our delivery formats into the virtual environment and streamlined our offerings to focus on communication skills training for non-native English speakers. We proudly offer our accent modification class, The ACCENT ACE SM Program, and our presentation skills course, Accentation SM , to corporations and the public under the name ACCENT ACE SM .
The Act On It! SM methodology highlights communication as performance. By learning to value communication as an art form, learners begin to understand the stage, rehearsal and practice as key components to their effective speech. Confidence, enthusiasm, and improvisation are just some of the elements that get placed into their communication toolbox. By joining the ACCENT ACESM dynamic learning environment, participants engage in a demonstrative approach that results in creating and conveying meaningful communication.
Recognition ACCENT ACESM is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) which is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. ACCENT ACE SM is also certified as a woman-owned business by the city and state of New York. Jill Diamond is actively involved with The Women Presidents’ Educational Organization (WPEO) where in 2008, she led the company in being recognized with the WBE Leadership Award as having created the most Done Deals with corporations in the SM New York region. ACCENT ACE (while under the name Lanartco) was a runner up in the Count Me In: Make Mine a Million competition in 2006.
British Council. Frequently Asked Questions About The English Language. Retrieved from http://www.britishcouncil.org/learningfaq-the-english-language.htm
Solé Sabater, Maria-Josep (1991). Stress and Rhythm in English. Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses 4 (1991): 145-62. Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Retrieved from http://rua.ua.es/dspace/bitstream/10045/5496/1/RAEI_04_13.pdf
Lev-Ari, Shiri & Keysar, Boaz . Why Don't We Believe Non-Native Speakers? The Influence Of Accent On Credibility. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 46 (2010) 1093–1096. Retrieved from http://psychology.uchicago.edu/people/faculty/LevAriKeysar.pdf
Huang, L. Frideger, M., & Pearce, Jone L. (2014, June). How Non-Native Speakers Can Crack the Glass Ceiling. Harvard Business Review, The Magazine. Retrieved from http://hbr.org/2014/06/how-non-native-speakers-can-crack-the-glass-ceiling/ar/1
Zatorre, Robert J. & Salimpoor, Valerie N. (June 2013). Why Music Makes Our Brain Sing. The New York Times Sunday Review. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/why-music-makes-our-brain-sing.html?_r=0
Yongqi Gu, Peter. (2003) Vocabulary Learning in a Second Language: Person, Task, Context and Strategies. TESL-EJ, volume 7, Number 2. Retrieved from http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume7/ej26/ej26a4/
Brandt, A., Gebrian, M. & Slevc , L. Robert. (2012) Music and Early Language Acquisition. Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience 11. Retrieved from http://www.neurosciencenews.com/theory-music-underlies-language-acquisition/
A report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. (April 2012). Competing Across Borders: How cultural and communication barriers affect business. Retrieved from http://www.ef.com.br/competing-across-borders/
Towers Watson. (2009/2010). Capitalizing on Effective Communication: How Courage, Innovation and Discipline Drive Business Results in Challenging Times. Retrieved from http://www.towerswatson.com/en-US/Insights/IC-Types/Survey-ResearchResults/2009/12/ 20092010-Communication-ROI-Study-Report-Capitalizing-on-Effective-Communication
Tenzer, H., Pudelko, M., & Harzing, Anne-Wil. (2014). The Impact of Language Barriers on Trust Formation in Multinational Teams. Journal of International Business Studies, 45, 508-535. Retrieved from http://www.harzing.com/download/mnt.pdf
Sinden, John. 2014, July 9th. The Importance of Intercultural Communication Training to the Global Workforce. Retrieved from http://www.astd.org/Publications/Blogs/Global-HRD-Blog/2014/07/The-Importance-of-Intercultural-Communication-Training-to-the-GlobalW orkforceblog-Article?mktcops=c.global-hrd&mktcois=c.training-for-multiple-cultures~c.training-and-development~c.coaching~c.globalworkf orce-development 212.206.3900