Accent Change

How speech pathology can assist accent change

Accent Modification Northern Sydney

Your accent plays an important role in your sense of identity. It may be a reminder of home or overseas relatives. Typically, it is not until you move to a different place that you notice your accent. For some, having a different accent can make it extremely difficult to be understood by others. If speaking or communicating with others is a key component of your profession or if your accent is limiting your social life it may be worth investigating accent modification.

What is an accent?

  • An accent is the distinctive way that people who speak the same language sound.
  • Accents vary based on the following features:[1]
    • Consonant and vowel sounds
    • Pitch and intonation (rise and fall of pitch)
    • Speech rate
    • Stress pattern
    • Volume
“Your accent is an important part of your identity”

Types of accents

Accents are divided into two categories:[2]

  • National Accents: accents typical of a country (e.g. Australian accent vs American accent)
  • Regional Accents: accents that vary among states and regions (e.g. Victorian accent vs New South Wales accent)

The impact of your accent

  • Your accent, even if it is strong, is not classified as a speech disorder. Accents play a significant role in our sense of identity.
  • However, you may struggle to be understood due to an accent if you have moved cities or countries. A problem arises when others struggle to understand what you are saying. This becomes an intelligibility issue.
  • You may have to frequently repeat yourself, write things down, or use gestures to get a message across. This can be time-consuming, frustrating, and embarrassing.
  • This is a particular problem if you need to be understood 100% of the time as part of your profession, such as health care professionals[3]
“Speech pathology can make your speech easier to understand”

When can you seek help?

  • If your accent is impacting your ability or confidence in socialising with others or forming friendships.
  • If your accent is impacting your ability or confidence to perform your job, especially if your job role involves talking or presenting (e.g. teacher/Educator, sales, team manager).[4][5][6]  
  • If you feel self-conscious or anxious about your accent.

Accent Assessment

  1. Your Speech Pathologist will discuss with you to clarify your concerns, clarify the extent to which you want to change your accent, and gather other relevant background information.
  2. Your Speech pathologist will perform formal and informal assessment tasks to determine the features of your accent.

Accent Assistance

  • Our Speech Pathologists work on key accent elements:[7]
    • Articulation (how you pronounce consonant and vowel sounds)
    • Pitch and intonation (how the pitch of your speaking voice rises and falls)
    • Speech rate (the speed at which you talk)
    • Stress pattern (how you emphasise certain syllables within a word)
    • Volume (how softly or loud you speak)
    • Language idiosyncrasies (mannerisms specific to a particular country, state, or region).
  • Typically we will book in a block of sessions. Sessions are usually 45 mins in length. We are able to do therapy sessions online via the internet, so telehealth sessions are possible with overseas or rural clients.
  • For example, we have recently worked with a Japanese Doctor who was seeking to pass his medical exams to work in the US. His accent was impacting how well other medical professionals and patients could understand him. This had an impact on the direction of his future career. We were able to assist him in improving his communication intelligibility.
  • *It is important to note that working on accent change is not elocution, neither is it trying to mimic an English/ Australian/American accent or any native accent. By making your speech easier for others to understand we can make your communication more effective.
“Your accent is an important part of your identity”

Our FREE Discovery Session is ideal for anyone with any questions relating to speech, stuttering, language, literacy, social skills, swallowing, and voice.

This is an opportunity for us to give some information on how to monitor your concern and give you advice on how to start self-managing any issues immediately.

Discovery Sessions can help you understand if an assessment or therapy is needed, how Speech Therapy would work, and if appropriate, help you book in.


1 Behrman, A. (2014). Segmental and Prosodic Approaches to Accent Management. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23(4), 546. doi:10.1044/2014_AJSLP-13-0074. Accessed 11 Jan. 2019.

2 Derwing, T. M., & Munro, M. J. (2009). Putting accent in its place: Rethinking obstacles to communication. Language Teaching, 42(4), 476-490. doi:10.1017/S026144480800551X, Accessed 11 Jan. 2019.

3 Study to evaluate the efficacy of communication training in accent modification for international health care professionals. (2012). Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology, 114(5), e59-e59. doi:10.1016/j.oooo.2012.09.040 Accessed 11 Jan. 2019.

5 Trimming, A. R. (2016) The effect of foreign accent on employability: a study … – SAGE Journals. Volume: 31 issue: 3, page(s): 409-428. Accessed 15 Jan. 2019.

6 Carlson, H. K. and McHenry, M. A. (2006), Effect of accent and dialect on employability. Journal of Employment Counseling, 43: 70–83. Accessed 15 Jan. 2019.

7 Ahmed, Z. T., Abdullah, A. N., Heng, C. S. (2013), The Role of Accent and Ethnicity in the Professional and academic context. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature. Accessed 15 Jan. 2019.

8 Brady, K. W., Duewer, N., & King, A. M. (2016). The effectiveness of a multimodal vowel-targeted intervention in accent modification. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 43, 23. Accessed 11 Jan. 2019.

Additional resources:

  • Carlson, H. K. and McHenry, M. A. (2006), Effect of accent and dialect on employability. Journal of Employment Counseling, 43: 70–83.
  • Chakraborty, R., Domsch, C., & Gonzales, M.D. (2011). Articulatory Behaviors Of Nonnative Speakers: Role Of L2 Proficiency And Accent Modification. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 113(1), 311-330.
  • Deprez-Sims, A., & Morris, S. B. (2010). Accents in the workplace: Their effects during a job interview. International Journal Of Psychology, 45(6), 417-426.
  • Hill, S., & Tombs, A. (2011). The effect of the accent of service employee on customer service evaluation. Managing Service Quality, 21(6), 649-666.
  • Kerr, J. O. A. N. (2000). Articulatory setting and voice production: Issues in accent modification.  Prospect- Adelaide, 15(2), 4-15.
  • Khurana, P., & Edgar, H. (2013). Efficacy of Accent Modification Training for International Medical Professionals. Journal Of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 10(2), 1-11.
  • Morley, A. (1999). Getting stressed about accents: a response to Alison Kimble (1999). Why the word ‘accent’ is a hot potato. ACQ: Issues In Language, Speech And Hearing, 1(2), 34.
  • Shah, A. P. (2012). Helping clients choose a voice: ideally, individuals seek accent modification services because they want to decrease attention to their accent and improve their communication abilities. A framework to guide clients in determining their accent modification needs can be useful. ASHA Leader, (3). 32.