Ear & Speak's clients benefit from our expert technical understanding of the pronunciation and learning challenges and solutions that form part of effective, advanced accent learning and modification.
In one-on-one training, our focus is on helping you speak clearly and confidently in the local context, whether or not you want to learn the Australian accent.
We know how languages are structured, and what happens when two (or more) languages come together.
- We know why a speaker of English with a Vietnamese accent will sometimes pronounce B in three different ways.
- We anticipate that clients with a Malaysian Chinese accent will find the vowel in words like day and cake unusually difficult.
- We help Russian-accented speakers understand the importance of твёрдые согласные in their English accent.
- We know that Portuguese speakers will have different problems depending on origin: English R will be often be harder for cariocas than paulistanos.
- We know Hindi speakers need to be shown that थ is not like English TH (except in the Indian English accent).
And we know that each client brings different issues and goals to the table. When we tailor the training, we're not copy-pasting from Wikipedia or pulling out a page called "Japanese accent problems" - that's not tailoring! Our training is for you, adapted constantly to your problems and performance. Truly personal.
Importantly, we focus on solving problems and making crucial changes, rather than re-teaching the basics of English and a collection of often-unnecessary pronunciation symbols over and over again.
- We know if 拼音 will be helpful for Mandarin speakers trying to fix their English pronunciation, depending on where they grew up.
- We know tricks to help speakers with a Spanish accent better interpret English spelling.
- We've developed special materials to enhance sound differences that people find hard to hear or pronounce.
- We use our own linguistically up-to-date and culturally relevant materials, developed and revised according to our clients' needs.
We endeavour to teach what's necessary for a client in whichever manner best suits their learning style and challenges. And, uniquely, we can also guide clients in conversation skills, vocabulary development, culturally appropriate language, and more.
Scroll down ⇣ for more about different accent reduction scenarios. ⇣
Changing your accent
New language skills (accent, pronunciation, grammar, style, elocution...) do not appear in an instant. Sometimes Ear & Speak receives enquiries from people who want their accent removed in just a few weeks – that is totally unrealistic: Specific problems can often be solved quite quickly, but changing the whole picture takes time.
Ear & Speak can provide accent modification training to speed up the learning of a more local accent, or to just neutralise or reduce some aspects of a foreign accent.
Some migrants to Australia want to learn the Australian accent quickly, while many just wish they didn't have to repeat themselves so often, rather than sounding particularly local.
For many overseas-born professionals, it can be a wise move to work on improving their English pronunciation before they hit barriers to promotion. In most places and occupations in Australia, the usual priority should be to ensure your pronunciation is easily understood, not that you have to sound Australian.
Our clients are sometimes people who were born here, but have spoken multiple languages, so their Australian English pronunciation sounds a bit different. And other clients may have immigrated decades ago, and have finally decided that they're tired of being asked where they come from.
We don’t assume that everyone wants to speak exactly the same way, so we tailor our training to suit each client. We listen to your concerns or goals and try to make these achievable.
How can I get rid of my Chinese/Indian/Japanese/Thai/Brazilian/... accent in English?
The starting point is, of course, to be using English as much as possible. You also need to try to compare your pronunciation with other people's. Some people find the many videos on YouTube a bit helpful, but the reality is that there are limits to how much progress can be made without special advice and training.
Everyone who becomes a client of Ear & Speak can successfully make some satisfying changes to improve the clarity of their speech, and most people can achieve a significant reduction in accent. Everyone needs to put in hard work, time, and regular practice. With some good luck (because ability plays a part in how hard/easy it is) and our expert guidance, a few clients can come close to having no audible accent.
Fine-tuning your pronunciation
People aren’t always happy with the way they sound, even when their accent is very mild, and those who have learnt to speak English confidently or are speakers of a specific dialect/accent of English may still want to adjust some aspects of their English pronunciation or accent.
With helpful feedback from friends or self-study resources on the internet, a few changes might be easy to make on your own. Unfortunately, most people find it difficult to “hear” their own pronunciation, so expert accent reduction training can make a big difference. Working on correcting the pronunciation of words that didn't "keep up" with the changes in your accent over time can be great for your long-term confidence.
As you can imagine, some issues can be very subtle and quite difficult to change. Not everyone is able to reach their ideal target, so we help these clients find a level that they can still be comfortable with, or devise strategies for making certain communicative tasks easier.
Overseas and mixed English accents
Sometimes Australians who go overseas for a while come back with a mixed accent, often a bit of an American or English accent. They can find that people react strangely to it. If it’s a problem, we can help you change your English pronunciation to get rid of some of the more conspicuous “foreign” sounds, or if you really want, we can work with you to try to sound 100% Australian again.
Occasionally, people from other English-speaking countries come to Australia and find they have problems being understood, or that people make comments about the way they speak. With the help of Ear & Speak, you can learn to either “soften” or adapt your accent.