Accents: Dialect Reduction / Code Switching

By Pam Marshalla

Man SpeakingQ: I am working with an adult who wants to reduce his accent. Do you have any material on this?

I am not an expert in working with accents, although I have always had a secret desire to specialize in it.  My professors called this “Dialect Reduction” but modern therapists call it “Code Switching.”

The continuing ed classes on dialect reduction I have taken in recent years and the old books on elocution that I have read both indicate that dialect reduction is all about working on vowels, diphthongs, a few select consonants, and all the super-segmentals (intonation, stress, emphasis, rhythm, resonance).

The client’s vowels can be all over the place and usually too few in number, the diphthongs can be completely absent, and consonant errors tend to be on the later-developing sounds, especially L, R, Sh, Ch, J, F, and Th.  Clusters can be a problem too.

The work is just like any other articulation work –– identify what the problems are and work on those.  Traditional one-phoneme-at-a-time work will be adequate.  Keep in mind that most of these people will have excellent oral-motor skills so the therapy becomes mostly one of ear training.

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