Accent You!

Accent You is the private speech therapy practice of Melissa Petersen, MA, CCC-SLP.

Melissa comes to the field of accent modification with a broad background. She earned her Master’s Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Western Washington University in 2007. She received the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2008. She has worked in both public and private settings, with adults and children, for the past twelve years. She is an experienced teacher with training in voice, theater, accent modification, phonological disorders, and fluency disorders.

Her therapy style is challenging, caring, and culturally sensitive. Her approach is casual, but focused and demanding. Melissa’s aim during speech sessions is to help her clients gain awareness of their speech behaviors, set and achieve communication goals, and give them the resources to become confident and efficient communicators.

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Now accepting new clients

I am currently accepting new clients who who want to work on reducing their accent over the summer.

I offer a free consultation to get started! If you are interested in working together to modify your accent, please get in touch with me and we will schedule a consultation. Evening/Saturday appointments available. Some weekday appointments, depending on the day.

If you are interested in knowing more about the services I provide, check out the Accent modification services tabs above.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, email MelissaAPetersen@gmail.com or call 206-227-7992.

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Putting your best voice forward

Close your eyes. Now say the words ‘Sue’ and then ‘zoo’ out loud. Do you hear the difference? Do you feel the difference in your mouth?

For people who may have trouble hearing or feeling the difference there is help. Nancy Morgenstern, founder of Speakbest LLC, has been training ears, tongues and mouths to speak more clearly for years. Vision is also key to this type of learning — seeing how a mouth and lips move to form a sound.

Think about it: if an employee, co-worker or boss doesn’t know whether you just said you were going to the zoo or are off to see a customer named Sue, problems could arise. [full article here].

I like this article for several good points it makes:

  1. Rate is very important. The speed of your speech (the “flow”) has a huge impact on how easy or hard it is for others to understand you.
  2. Daily practice between speech sessions is necessary in order to make the best progress.
  3. Awareness of how you speak is the first step toward changing your speech patterns.
  4. The goal of accent modification therapy is not to get rid of an accent; rather, it is to modify it to make the person more easily understood when they speak.
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Accent modification therapy over the internet?

A pair of business majors have started the website http://www.weblishpal.com, which connects Chinese learners with English speaking tutors for webcam language lessons.

Two MBA grads, Danny Wang and Barbara Tassa, are hoping to revolutionize the way people in China learn English through their new web video business. Called WeblishPal, the system connects Chinese learners with native English speakers half a world away for real-time video chats.

The idea came out of Wang’s own experience. After studying English for more than 10 years at school in Sichuan province, Wang thought he had a fair grasp of the language. He could read English books and had memorized dozens of grammar rules.

But the software engineer had a rude awakening when he immigrated to Canada in 2000.

Wang couldn’t understand native English speakers and they couldn’t understand him. “My English was so bad I couldn’t even open a bank account,” he says. It took regular interactions with English speakers to make him fluent.
[full article]

The idea seems really interesting, and has a lot of potential applications. Could accent modification therapy be done over the internet? How about speech therapy for other issues? Would it be covered by insurance?

Telepractice seems like the “wave of the future” to me, but maybe that’s because I only recently figured out how to turn on the webcam on my netbook.  Figuring out how to provide therapy online sounds daunting. Maybe not for the technologically savvy?

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Accent reduction in York

I found a nice article about accent reduction therapy in the York Regional Municipality, in Ontario Canada.

For York Region’s growing and diverse newcomer community, the accent is on quality of life and business success. Literally. With dozens of cultures represented in our communities, English is rarely an immigrant’s first language. Fundamental English fluency is often present, but the distinctive pronunciations of the mother tongue can create a contrasting and problematic accent.

“Although I had a professional background, I often experienced prejudice because my accent made me sound unsophisticated and not too intelligent,” said Thornhill’s Elvan Girgin, who arrived from her native Turkey in 2000. [full article here]

Some key points:

  • Accent reduction therapy takes time, and requires a lot of effort from both the client and speech therapist to be successful.
  • People make judgments based on a person’s accent – and these judgments can hold you back professionally.
  • Accent therapy can help people increase their confidence in their communication skills.
  • Your accent is part of who you are. You don’t lose your accent; you improve it!

Overall I liked the article, although I prefer to use the term “accent modification” rather than “accent reduction.” Everyone has an accent, and in accent modification therapy we help you to match the accent of the people around you. That way you can communicate more clearly, while staying true to yourself.

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