I’m truly excited this month to be sharing with you how interacting with those around you is a major factor in reducing your accent. Why this month? May is “Better Hearing and Speech Month”, as sponsored by the American SpeechLanguageHearing Association (ASHA). Not only is ASHA my credentialing organization, but it does significant scientific research into a multitude of speech and hearing concerns for children and adults.
A major research focus for ASHA has been the overuse of technology and its effect on language and hearing development, specifically among children.
In a 2015 ASHA survey of 1,000 parents:
• 52% expressed concern that technology negatively impacts the quality of their conversations with their children
• 54% say they have fewer conversations with their children because of technology
• 52% are concerned that misuse of technology is harming their children’s speech and language skills.
How does this translate to YOU as an adult professional?
As you work to reduce your accent, and as a professional who is probably using a substantial amount of technology at work and at home, I would ask this question…
Speech-language experts are noticing a significant negative result that the isolating effects of tablets, smartphones, and other personal technology devices are having on children’s language development… and I would put forth that any adult trying to make changes in their speech is experiencing the same effects.
Think honestly about your daily life: does the technology you use isolate you, and slow the accent reduction progress you could be making?
Dr. Judith Page, ASHA’s president in 2015, notes that there is no substitute for listening, talking, and human interaction in developing vocabulary and communication skills, and I would agree!
But as technology is not going away, this brings us to my next question…
What would it mean to use technology to reduce your accent? Setting personal limits on screen time to allow for more human interaction would be a great start. Another option is using a video chat service to practice your English with a friend who lives elsewhere, and setting up regular “appointment” times with them offers you accountability in actually making the time to practice. But also I’d like to take it a step further, and get people together who are all on a journey to clear speech and being understood.
We need the listening skills of others, friends to practice with, and the support of a community around us to encourage us in improving our speech. That’s what my “Speaking and Learning Together” course is all about… sessions where you can work with me and others who are working toward the same goal. We’ll be starting the course this summer, so be watching my blog and social media for start times and early bird specials.
Let’s control the way we use technology to affect our speech, instead of it controlling us!
And I have more resources for your accent reduction… you can take my free accent screening, and receive a free pronunciation guide, at losemyaccent.com.