Accent Modification vs. Articulation Therapy

Mar 23, 2022

Have you ever wondered about the difference between accent training and articulation therapy/speech therapy?

I’m guessing that you might have because it’s a question I get from Speech Pathologists and ESL teachers all the time.

It’s a good question too, because the actual method is really similar. 

With both accent training and articulation therapy, you start by teaching the placement of the target sound and doing listening discrimination exercises to be sure the student hears the difference between the current sound and the goal sound.

Next, you work on the sound in isolation, in single words, then in sentences and phrases, eventually progressing to conversational speech. 

After that, you make it all permanent with consistent repetition practice.

So, as you can probably see, if you’ve worked with even one articulation client, you already have many of the skills you need to offer accent modification or pronunciation training services.

And even if you haven’t worked with articulation, you can probably see that accent training is a relatively simple process!  I’m not saying that it’s quick, or that the student won’t have to put in some good old-fashioned practice time, but so many people tend to overcomplicate the PROCESS, when it really is quite simple.

However, if you want successful accent training programs with permanent results that keep your students coming back for more (and who doesn’t want more sessions and more revenue!?!) there are a few important differences that you should know about.

  1. Target sounds and the sequence of the lesson plan: 

Although the structure of the session is similar to articulation therapy, there is no right and wrong when it comes to accent modification or accent training.  Accents are not a disorder, they are a normal variant of spoken English, so this work is elective coaching, not treatment or therapy.

The order that you work on those sounds is unique to each student.  It's usually based on native language, and the most common sound substitutions of different languages. 

When it comes to sequencing, you want to look at how much each sound interferes with spoken English and address the sounds that affect intelligibility most, first.  This also varies depending on the native language.

  1. Materials Materials Materials!!!!

Please do not use child articulation exercises and materials with adult accent training students.  This is worst mistake you can make!

Early on, I made this mistake with adult accent students and am so glad I learned my lesson quickly!

My students are some of the most intelligent, motivated adults that I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and by using materials designed for children, they felt that I was treating them like children or thinking that they were less intelligent, or less sophisticated because English was not their native language.  Not my intention, but I totally get it!

So I developed my own library of 300+ online video lessons, audio practice, and worksheets that are effective and appropriate for accent training students.  My downloadable materials are available as part of The Accent Channel Method Teacher Training but you can find lots of great free materials if you spend some time Google searching. 

Just promise me that your materials will always be appropriate for intelligent, sophisticated adults (this goes for activities and teaching techniques too!)  Promise?  Good.  Moving on…

  1. The Assessment: 

Remember, accents and dialects are not disorders so Accent Training is a completely elective service.  Every student makes the choice to work with you because they want to, so the assessment, when you are meeting them for the first time, plays a big part in their decision. 

This means your assessment can’t be a traditional therapeutic assessment.  There has to be a marketing component or you won’t get a steady stream of enrollments. 

I know.  I used to be afraid of marketing too.

It’s a different mindset but it only takes a few tweaks to your assessment protocol make it happen. 

Just think of your assessment as a time to listen to the student’s fears and goals, to build trust, to develop a relationship, and to explain to your potential student how you can help them improve their speech and make their life better, rather than just trying to collect data and set goals. 

Many teachers make the mistake of doing a really hard-core evaluation at the beginning and that usually backfires.  It makes the student feel hopeless, harshly judged, (they already feel this way in day to day conversations) and overwhelmed so it sends them running for the hills! 

Your accent assessment should get your potential students excited to work with you and ready to enroll in your programs on the spot!  And the way to do that is to build a relationship.  Build trust and prove to them that improving their speech is totally possible.

Because it is!

And if you'd like more training and support as you learn to teach accents, dialects, and pronunciation, as on online business or as a side hustle, join me in The Accent Channel Method.  

The program includes the materials, training, marketing strategies, and ongoing support that you'll need to start working with your own students ASAP!

Plus you can earn ASHA CEUs or CE hours while you learn a new skill and grow your business.

Make Money Teaching Accents and Pronunciation Full-Time or as a Side Gig

Download the FREE guide to learn about the skills, software, certifications, and other basics that you'll need to start working with paying students. 

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