"The sounds of our voices, our dialects and our accents have a significant impact on our sense of belonging and identity. As much as we take pride in hearing our own dialect used in a respectful manner by others, we are deeply insulted when the dialect is derided." ~ Micha Espinosa
Although this is commonly referred to as "Accent Reduction," at Vocal Context we firmly believe that this term is not only inaccurate but also potentially disempowering for the student. Our voice and our sounds are part of who we are and part of our cultural identity. No language learner should be made to feel that communicating effectively in English forces them to reduce who they are.
Because most Native English teachers do not have a specialized foundation in the physiology and anatomy of articulation, nor an understanding of sociolinguistics, their ability to support a student in pronunciation can be limited. Listeners are not only relying on accurate pronunciation sounds to understand you, they are picking up on qualities like rhythm, pitch, and intonation as well.
Our teaching ethos at Vocal Context is to provide straightforward tools and insights for advanced EFL clients to engage in more effective communication through pronunciation and voice work. We empower language learners to see such tools as part of a skill-set, as opposed to making them feel compelled to lose or 'reduce' who they are in order to successfully engage with English speakers.
Much of this learning strategy is an interdisciplinary approach that comes from how actors learn new accents or dialects for theatre and film. Actors must often learn an accent in a short amount of time and be confident to perform with a voice that is very different from their own.
Initial sessions include an evaluation of the learner's abilities and goals and expectations for a teaching plan are discussed.
"I'm confident that Amy will give you new and useful ways to work, especially approaching your work from the Korean accent."
~Sungsoo Yun (Korea)
"What I have learned from Amy is that doing an accent is much more than saying the words correctly. It is also about knowing the culture of the respective nation."
~Yonka Yancheva (Bulgaria)