I’m often asked who accent modification instruction is for. The easy answer is it’s for anyone who wants to keep improving how they sound in their non-native language of English. It is not learning English, it is the fine tuning that happens after someone has already become proficient in English. It’s smoothing the rough edges.
It’s always a personal choice, not everyone who speaks English with the influence of a different language feels the need to do the fine tuning. The people who do want to continue to smooth the rough edges of their speaking skills find me when they are ready. There are as many different reasons that people choose to continue improving their speaking skills as there are individuals who do it.
There are recurring themes that come up when people describe their motivation for looking for speech coaching:
I see people who experience frustrations in everyday life:
Feel the focus is on their accent instead of their message (when people say, “I love your accent” instead of replying to the conversation topic)
Just tired of talking about where they’re from
They have kids who are born in the US and they start pointing out that the parents “aren’t saying it right.”
There are certain words that make interactions difficult in stores, restaurants, retail shops (e.g., “everything bagel,” “medium rare,” “milk”)
Feel they are seen in the company based on the work they do but don’t feel their opinions are being heard or given credit
Sometimes there aren’t specific events that motivate them to seek out continuing instruction, it’s a nagging feeling or thought:
Want to know what it is exactly that’s causing people to have to concentrate to understand them
Want to eliminate doubt that the reason they’re not getting hired, promoted, good reviews, etc. is due to their accent
Wonder if how they currently sound is as good as they can get or if they can improve
It’s a good time in their life to continue learning. They now have the time, money, and desire to go back and strengthen their speaking skills that they first thought weren’t so important.
I see people at every stage of professional life:
Pursuing degrees in graduate, doctoral, and postdoctoral studies
Interviewing for jobs
Becoming more competitive in their company for promotions
Newly promoted, having more communication responsibilities
International corporations, relocation to the US
Succeeding in one of the highest levels of the “C-level” (CEO, CTO, COO)
Working in a start-up company that requires multiple skills
Working in the academic world
What they all have in common
One client expressed her reason for seeking out speech coaching so well that it summed up what so many other people had said in different ways but didn’t paint such a clear picture - I feel like I’ve come this far in my life, studies, and career with the skills I gained a long time ago when I first learned English. If I have come this far with that limited amount of information, I know I can go much further if I have a stronger foundation of knowledge and skills. That’s why I’m here, to build a stronger foundation so I can build a bigger house.
From my perspective, she was already very successful and was going to continue to rise even further in her career. From her perspective, there wasn’t an end-point for learning and improving. That’s a theme I witness over and over with the people I work with. Continuous learning is a part of their lives. Their goals weren’t just to get past a qualifying exam, to just graduate, to just get a job - they are always pursuing their curiosity to learn more and try new things and the consequences are good grades, diplomas, jobs that they excel at.
They are naturally curious if they can do better and they’re not afraid to seek out the professional instruction with me that can help them reach that goal. The goal doesn’t have to be a finite point, the goal is usually to make progress beyond their current stage. This is the growth mindset that makes them successful.