Accent Reduction at Home

debbie and duncan
Dr Duncan Markham & Dr Debbie Loakes

If you can’t access Ear & Speak’s face-to-face training in Melbourne, the next best thing is our unique online English accent modification course to help you elsewhere in Australia.

Over almost two decades of helping clients, we’ve mostly resisted offering online training because it can’t deliver the quality that we pride ourselves on face-to-face. Nonetheless, during the pandemic we worked hard to develop our open-ended, highly personalised Accent Reduction at Home program.

This page explains how the program works. If you’d also like to know more about why we are the only serious choice for accent training in Australia, please see our main page about accent modification or start on the front page.

Expert, personal one-on-one online accent training

Our 45-minute live online lessons are still tailored, analytical and flexible, but our focus is a bit different from face-to-face training because remote learning is not as fast. Everyone is different, so training lasts as long as you want.

All of your lessons are with either Dr Debbie Loakes or Dr Duncan Markham. One trainer, specialist training materials, and additional web-based resources.

For online accent reduction lessons to yield results, you need to be well motivated, speaking English often, and focused on practising a lot! And you need good guidance. There’s nothing better online.

 

It is important to understand that online pronunciation lessons can never be as effective as face-to-face. This is fact, not opinion.

Singing lessons, physiotherapy, or psychological counselling cannot be as effective by video. And in the same way, trying to hear and see the detail needed for effective serious accent reduction needs real face-to-face training.

The convenience of a virtual solution can be tempting, but should not be your preference.

 

How does it work?

We start with a brief video chat to check that your devices and connection are good enough for doing serious, focused online learning. You then do some short recordings for our analysis before your first training session, plus a detailed questionnaire to understand your background and goals.

 

Unlike other providers, we aren’t just telling you a problem and then moving on to the next issue. We’re always focused on insight, mastery and implementation of new knowledge in your everyday life.

Block 1 (three lessons)

Training gets into some very specific problems you’re having that we know are generally easier to master online. This lays the foundation for adding more challenging elements to training, depending on your progress. Insight is the first step towards improvement and confidence. 

 

Block 2 (three lessons)

As training rapport and practice increase, we are able to focus more on implementation of the new skills in real-life communication situations and using your common work/life vocabulary. (In our face-to-face training we would start doing this earlier, but we need to be realistic about the effectiveness of online learning.)

 

Block 3 (three lessons)

In the third block we develop your skills further and start on more challenging issues, depending on your progress.

After this block, clients can continue training as desired.

FAQs

I live in Melbourne. Can I take the online program?

You can, but you shouldn’t. Don’t let online convenience blind you to the value of face-to-face learning of something as challenging as accent.

Who is Ear & Speak?

Ear & Speak was established in 2002 in Melbourne, Australia, by Dr Duncan Markham, an experienced lecturer and researcher in phonetics and psycholinguistics. Dr Debbie Loakes joined the team a few years later. Please see more at our profile page.

Is the Accent Reduction at Home program similar to Ear & Speak's normal face-to-face training?

To some extent, yes, but in the Accent Reduction at Home training we aren’t spending as much time on the bigger picture (elocution, fine detail, conversational skill, vocabulary development, grammar, etc).

How do you decide which issues are most important?

A number of factors are considered when we prepare to start your training:

  • Your reasons for joining the Accent Reduction at Home program
  • Your occupation and likely audience when speaking
  • Your language background and how much English you speak
  • Your answers to the language questionnaires after registration
  • The likely difficulty of making certain changes
How is Ear & Speak's online accent training different from other products on the market?
  • The level of useful, practical detail in terms of both feedback and instruction, is unmatched by any other service (to our knowledge).
  • We deliberately focus you on the most important issues, rather than giving you a checklist of every mistake and leaving you unable to work on them by yourself.
  • Our personalisation of your training is obvious in video sessions and the unique Your Sounds webpages that you will have access to.
Who is the Accent Reduction at Home program suitable for?

It is most suitable for second-language speakers of English with strong to moderate accents. It can also be useful for some other speakers of English with accent/pronunciation issues that people frequently notice, but more subtle issues can be impossible to work on successfully online.

You don’t need to know a lot about the technical details of English pronunciation, but you will need to try to understand some of the symbols used in dictionaries in order to solve some problems effectively. We try to explain things as simply as possible, but as changing your accent is difficult, some details will still be unfamiliar and perhaps challenging.

High-quality face-to-face training is always the best solution if you can access it.

Are you going to make me sound Australian?

The sessions focus on issues that cause problems for people trying to understand you, and as you’re probably living in Australia, the listeners are people who are expecting Australian English as the basic “model” of English.

However, as long as your accent/pronunciation can be easily understood by listeners, the focus is not on Australian English, but on clarity.

If you tell us that you would prefer to sound more Australian, then of course some of the issues we identify may be different for you than for someone who only wants to be clearly understood.

How can I make the most of the program?

We’ve designed the training so that each problem is described in detail with clear examples, so that you can work by yourself or with a friend between sessions. The Your Sounds webpages will provide additional material (wordlists, audio, video) for many of your issues.

To get the most benefit, you’ll need to make time for frequent practice and make sure you try to make the necessary changes in your everyday communication.

Can I achieve the same progress in the Accent Reduction at Home program as I would if I were attending face-to-face training?

Unfortunately not. But as not everyone lives in a major city or has time to attend training, the Accent Reduction at Home program is a very useful, careful designed compromise. And remember, it doesn’t matter whether you live in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart or a smaller place near or far, we’re unaware of any other service provider with our level of experience and expertise!

Can I have face-to-face training with Ear & Speak as well?

Certainly, if you’re coming to Melbourne sometime. If you would like to combine Accent Reduction at Home with infrequent more advanced training, it’s a great solution, but make sure you discuss this idea with us beforehand, as our schedule is usually full at short notice.

I am overseas. Can I use the Accent Reduction at Home service?

Certainly. Keep in mind that it’ll be harder to make significant progress if you aren’t speaking English a lot between sessions.

Fees for online training

Click here for information about our face-to-face training fees and location in Melbourne.

ONLINE TRAINING (Accent Reduction at Home)

Block 1: three 45-min lessons$444 (=$148 per lesson)
Block 2: three 45-min lessons (discounted)$396 (=$132 per lesson)
Block 3: three 45-min lessons (discounted)$396 (=$132 per lesson)
Further training: single lessons$132 per lesson

We only work with clients who are committed to making progress, so the minimum cost is three sessions.

Fees effective until 2023. All fees are in Australian Dollars. We accept OSKO instant bank transfer, Visa, Mastercard and American Express. All cards attract a surcharge of 2-3%, depending on the card.

Enquiry form

Online training is for clients who don’t live in Melbourne.

If you live in Melbourne please click here for information about our advanced face-to-face accent reduction training. We can’t emphasise strongly enough how much more can be learnt by attending advanced face-to-face training! We know people often want to prioritise time or convenience, but think about why you want to make changes…

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