Results from accent pronunciation training – not in a can

The result has to be that speech is clearer and easier to understand. The outcome has to be communication is more competent and confident. The result has to be that language and communication are more effective, efficient, and productive. These are general results and outcomes, and they’re the results and outcomes that everyone should expect from accent pronunciation training. In order to optimize and maximize the results and outcomes of accent pronunciation training, the training must be suited especially for specific needs. And because of that, customized accent reduction and pronunciation training cannot be pre-made and ready-to-go. Effective accent pronunciation training is dynamic, and it does not come from a can. It is not pre-made and ready-to-go.

When I hear specific results, I get very suspicious. What specific results? Do “specific results” refer to individual sounds, also called “phonemes”, like the th sound, the r sound, the short i sound, the short a sound, or the sound of s in words like “usually” and “measure”. Yes, getting better at producing accurate vowel and consonant sounds is very important. And those results are specific, aren’t they? Yes, they are specific, but they’re not the general results that go a greater distance and have much greater impact and much greater effect. If the results and outcomes of accent and pronunciation training do not go the distance and do not have the necessary effect, then that means that the accent and pronunciation training comes from a can. Accent and pronunciation training in a can does not work. Accent pronunciation training must be dynamic, and dynamic does not come in a can.

When I hear “specific results”, and some of those results are for individual sounds, then I have reason to be suspicious. Improving the pronunciation of individual sounds can be tricky. Mistakes are not consistent. It’s possible to hear improvement and believe there’s improvement in this area, but what you hear on one day may not be the same as what you hear on another day. Not only that, but pronouncing individual sounds correctly, while very important, is not what can more often yield better results. Keeping track of apparent, and I mean apparent, improvement in producing individual sounds is much easier to quantify and document than qualifying other much more important, and significant, aspects of pronunciation and accent such as intonation, time stress, and connecting sounds. And there is more that must be part of accent and pronunciation training such as project confidence, speech rate, increased expression, and tone. All of these are strong contributors to producing speech that is easier to understand, more effective, more efficient, and more productive.