What is accent reduction?

Anthony's coaching is excellent - inspiring and fun! He was great at listening to my needs
Melissa, Head of Marketing, online events company

Accent reduction tuition is designed to make subtle but important changes to your natural way of speaking, so that you are always clearly understood.
It's not like old-fashioned elocution lessons, which taught people to speak 'properly': in today's world I don't believe there is such a thing as 'proper' English. There is only clear English.
You don't need to get rid your accent, nor should you be expected to - it's part of who you are. But of course it's important that others can understand you easily.
A course of accent reduction classes will help you to fine-tune your pronunciation, so you can avoid the timewasting, confusion and embarrassment that comes from being misunderstood.

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Who's it for?

If you are fully fluent in English, or you're a native speaker but your accent is unfamiliar to the people you encounter in daily life, then this course will be right for you.

The course DOESN'T cover English language skills, like grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure. We work exclusively on the sounds of spoken English, so you need have a pretty advanced level of English language proficiency to get the most out of this course.

How does it work?

The basis of my work on accent reduction is a neutral British English accent - the kind of accent you tend to hear from BBC newsreaders. There's a couple of reasons for using this accent as a point of reference:

- It's not defined by geography: you will hear this accent all over the country, not just in London or the south of England
- It's generally understood by most people in the UK and the rest of the world
- This accent has many characteristics which make it an effective means of expressing feelings and ideas, and holding listeners' attention: it has long vowel sounds, distinct consonant sounds, and a musical but solid and confident-sounding pattern of intonation

And remember, it's not about learning to speak like a BBC newsreader (unless of course you want to). It's about bringing your natural accent a bit closer to a neutral British English sound - close enough so that you are easily understood at all times.

My method involves a combination of technical work on pronunciation and articulation (mainly on the vowel and consonant sounds that are unique to neutral British English) and exercises in how to use spoken language to really communicate: we look at how to use the tone, rhythm, melody and phrasing patterns of neutral British English to express yourself better, and hold the attention of listeners. It's a mix of the science of pronunciation and the art of communication.

What's the format?

Classes are one-to-one: I design the course specifically for you, so we can work at a pace that suits you, and focus on exactly what you need.
It also means that you don't have to work to a set timetable - classes can be scheduled to suit you.
Another advantage to this form of tuition is privacy. The way you speak can be quite a personal thing. This way, you have the freedom to try new sounds and make mistakes without the self-consciousness that can come from doing so in front of a classroom full of strangers.
It's a bit more expensive than group classes, but people often find it's more comfortable and convenient doing one-to-one. It also tends to get better results!


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How long does it take?

You can do one-off classes and pay for them individually, but generally people book a package of 5 or 10 sessions. It works out cheaper the more you book.

Each session lasts an hour, and I usually recommend taking a session a week. Then you have time to practice in between sessions. Some courses you'll see advertised online promise to "get rid of your accent in 3 days!" Hmm…

I think it's important to be frank with you, before you invest in a course: changing your accent is like going to the gym, or learning to play an instrument. It takes time and practice - even if it's just five minutes a day.
Your speech won't improve unless you're prepared to put in the regular practice you'll need to make real progress.
But it'll be worth it! You'll be surprised how soon you'll become aware of a difference. Clients often report that their families and colleagues notice an improvement after 3 to 4 weeks.

Where do classes take place?

I have teaching rooms in central London for clients based in the capital. If you're outside London, or prefer to avoid travelling in, I can work with you over Skype, or another videoconferencing platform. This method offers maximum convenience, and I've had excellent results teaching people this way.


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Why is accent reduction important?

Most of the people I work with - Nigerian, Chinese, Italian, Russian, Polish, Indian, British - are busy building successful careers.
Their communication skills are more important than they used to be. They want to be taken seriously.

Some are students training to be doctors, teachers, architects and so on. Others are aiming for promotion to more senior positions in management, administration, consultancy - roles that require authority and leadership. They can testify to the benefits of accent reduction training.

It's EASIER…
- to contribute in meetings and group discussions
- to develop good relationships with clients, patients and students
- to hold the attention of colleagues and bosses in presentations

Reducing your accent isn't about suppressing your true self: it's about being able to make a conscious choice about how you come across. You'll still be you, just a different version of you - more confident, more comfortable and more at ease when speaking.
If you're interested in seeing how accent reduction training can help you, get in touch with me to arrange a taster session. I've tried to briefly explain what I do, but really you need to try it for yourself. I'll show you some basic techniques that you can start using straightaway to improve your speaking, and there's absolutely no obligation to book a course following the taster session.

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