Lingua East

People should hear your ideas, not your accent.

Tag: services

Lost in a Crowd

It’s a strange feeling, to be completely lost, surrounded by people and conversation, struggling to keep up and follow along. Participating in the conversation is much more difficult, with an array of unpleasant emotions. If you find yourself in a place where your second language is the primary means of communication, it takes guts to learn the language to a level where you can use it every day. You probably know what it is like to think hard about a great response to something someone said in conversation, only to come out with it too late.

The moment has passed, and your insightful, witty comment isn’t insightful or witty anymore. Sometimes a thin smile spreads across your conversation partners’ faces as they nod slowly at you, pausing a respectful moment before continuing with a conversation that has progressed further than your ears were able to follow. Other times, after adding your comment, the other speakers keep the conversation going, as if you hadn’t spoken at all.

It’s a feeling of powerlessness, to be left standing there, wanting to be a part of the conversation, but grasping to keep up with what others have said and to come up with a response fast enough for it to add meaning to the exchange. Being able to understand and communicate with others evens the playing field. Even if two people don’t see eye to eye on some things, they can get their ideas across and begin to understand the point of view of others whose knowledge and experiences differ from theirs. But it’s not easy.

It takes patience.

It takes practice.


It takes guts to speak up, to chime in, to share your two cents, to let them hear your ideas. And if you really want them to understand your message, it takes some attention to the way you say it.


So take the time to work on understanding the things about the language that are different from the language you grew up speaking. Maybe pronouns were optional, and you have difficulty with he and she. Many people will brush off you talking about your sister as he, but others might get confused.

When you are giving a big presentation at work, trying to convince your superiors of something you know will be great for the company, the difference between in and on may not be relevant to your ideas, but knowing it will help you be more persuasive.

And in those nerve-racking circumstances when it’s late at night, your phone is dead, and you need to ask a stranger for help, being able to explain your situation with clear pronunciation can make a world of difference.

The more you interact with native speakers and work on your ability to produce the language, the easier it will be to understand others in that language. Life is not as much fun when you are lost in a crowd of people you can’t communicate with. At Lingua East, our certified instructor can give you a road map to better communication in English. Join the conversation. Let them hear your ideas.

Chipping Away at an Accent with an SLP

If you read my site, you might find the term ‘SLP’ used quite a bit. An SLP is a speech-language pathologist, a person who has completed a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders, speech pathology, or another similarly-named program. Here I explain why when you need quality accent modification services (or other communication enhancement services, for that matter), it’s a good idea to look for a speech trainer who is an SLP, a speech-language pathologist.

A certified SLP is a person who has received the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ASHA). You might see the letters CCC-SLP after their name. I am a certified SLP, which means that I have a master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and that my first year or so of work was under the supervision of an experienced and knowledgeable SLP.

Anyone can market themselves as a speech coach, and there are quite a few speech coaches peddling accent modification services who are not certified SLPs. Some of them are very good at it, but not all of them have engaged in the rigorous study of the sounds of speech, language learning, motor speech patterns, and what it takes to change the sounds of speech. These are all topics of speech pathology, and they are all topics that your speech coach should be intimately familiar with.

If you’re looking for a certified SLP to provide you with accent modification or other communication skills training services, you have several options to search. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is Google. You can google the services you are looking for and your geographic area. Then, you can weed through the results to see which speech trainers are SLPs and which came to the profession from another field.

If you are unsure if your Google results are certified SLPs or not, you can verify their certification at the ASHA website. You will need their first and last names, their state, and the country to perform this check. Click here to verify a speech trainer’s certification.

A more targeted way to search is to search the CORSPAN database[1]. CORSPAN stands for the Corporate Speech Pathology Network, and it is an international organization of certified speech-language pathologists who provide accent modification, public speaking, presentation skills, voice training, and other communication skills training. At corspan.org you can search for a speech trainer in your geographic region.

Something worth noting about CORSPAN is that it is a membership-based group. There are many more speech trainer SLPs in the world than are in the group, but the group provides an easy way to find a qualified speech trainer in your area. Because one of the requirements for membership in CORSPAN is being a certified SLP, it is more reliable than Google.

Changing an accent is not just an art, it is a science. Groups of speech sounds are interrelated in many ways, and some are a lot easier to change than others. With an individualized plan carefully laying out the speech sounds to address and the order in which to address them, an English speaker with an accent has the best chance at making lasting changes and getting the most bang for his/her buck.

[1] In the nature of full disclosure: I serve on the board of CORSPAN, so I am biased here. However, it is the only group of its kind, and the members are passionate about what they do.

Cultural Communication for Exceptional Service

Human relationships are the source of business success. These relationships can happen in many places. They occur among staff members, they develop between your company’s representatives and guests, and they serve as the backbone of customer referrals. The human connection is the most valuable part of your business.

Every facet of business matters. To succeed in business, one must be constantly striving, working to improve in every area without leaving any aspect of the business behind to stagnate. That’s why it is so important to work on communication skills. There is always space for improvement.

Every facet of business matters.

Every facet of business matters.

Consider the hotel industry. Hotel employees deal with guests from all over the world, perhaps with the majority of visitors coming from one or two foreign countries. Operators work very hard for years to select the best quality linens and furnishings for the accommodations, and staff works tirelessly around the clock to provide guests with other special features that make a stay at the hotel an unforgettable experience.

What so many business operators overlook, unfortunately, is the crucial importance of communication skills. After all, hotels and other service-oriented businesses rely on the customer experience more than anything else. Customers can experience the best in activities and accommodations, but if their interactions with staff are less than stellar, then they will be significantly less likely to refer others to the hotel.

Negative experiences are memorable.

Negative experiences are memorable.

Negative experiences are memorable. Studies show that we remember them more than positive experiences, and with greater detail[1]. In fact, guests are more likely to talk about their negative interactions with the staff than they are to rave about the excellent quality of the Egyptian cotton bath towels or the LED temperature controls for water fixtures in the bathroom. We have to work harder to provide memorable positive experiences.

Particularly when dealing with guests from other cultures, we come up against cultural expectations that we often do not even know about. These cultural expectations can occur in the unlikeliest and most mundane of interactions, such as a server checking on dining guests. When these expectations are violated, people notice, and they remember.

The best way to prevent individuals from your organization from inadvertently violating guests’ expectations is to educate yourself in cultural communication. Just as you make an effort to stay on top of industry news through publications, networking, and working with consultants, if you are in a service industry behooves you to work on communication skills. Especially if you provide services for international guests, communication is one area you do not want to leave behind to stagnate.

What matter most are the connections forged between people.

What matter most in the service industries are the connections forged between people. Read any business book and you’ll find countless examples of companies that sell product at higher prices than competitors, but still experience success due to an unwavering commitment to customer service. The companies that are able to persevere through tough times and turn profits, year after year, are not the ones that base their basic operations on shrewd economic principles with dead-eyed employees fulfilling job duties, nothing more, nothing less. The companies that are able to find true longevity and success are the ones that focus on people – that means both the customers they serve and the individuals they employ.

In order to provide value to your customers and excellent customer service to your guests, you must invest in your employees. Part of their training in operations and company culture should include a section on communication skills. If you serve international clients, special training in cultural communication can set your organization apart from the competition.

We all want to be the best at what we do. Employee training in cultural communication can be extremely valuable to your organization. Have a consultant train your staff once and you’ll see lasting customer service improvements that quickly recover the cost of the service. Companies of all sizes reap the rewards of communication skills training through better, more responsive customer service.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can increase profit margins with cultural communication training for employees, contact us. We provide consulting services to select organizations looking to build customer relationships through effective cross-cultural communication. Help your company make a name for itself through the human connection.

We provide consulting services to select organizations looking to build customer relationships through effective cross-cultural communication.

[1] Mickley, K. & Kensinger, E. (2008). Emotional valence influences the neural correlates associated with remembering and knowing. Cognitive, Affective, and behavioral Neuroscience, 8, 143-152.

Mickley Steinmetz, K. & Kensinger, E. (2009). The effects of valence and arousal on the neural activity leading to subsequent memory. Psychopsyiology, 46, 1190-1199.

Improve Your Speech with PESL Speech Training

An accent is a part of who you are. It is part of your cultural and personal identity. At Lingua East, we love accents, always have. However, we recognize the negative impact an accent can have for people speaking English as a second language, both professionally and personally.

Miscommunications occur all the time. When a listener does not understand you, because of word choice, pronunciation, tone of voice, or some combination of the above, the results can be disastrous. We know what it feels like to not be understood when speaking a second language. And we are dedicated to providing quality accent modification services to decrease the chances of having that happen when you communicate in English.

Your accent is a part of who you are.

An accent is a part of who you are.

Our accent modification services are provided with the ultimate goal of reducing the negative impacts that accents can have on a person’s life, and enabling that person to meet their goals and go further than they imagined. We don’t want to eliminate your accent. It’s part of who we are. We do want to give you the tools for effective communication, that you can use at will, as needed.

The Compton Pronunciation of English as a Second Language method, known as PESL, is a program we use to help individuals who speak English with a noticeable accent. The PESL method is based on research done by Dr. Arthur J. Compton and is provided by speech professionals who have completed formal training in the method. For decades, this method has been in use. It has benefitted tens of thousands of participants.

Participants in PESL training work with a certified speech trainer once a week for about three months. This training may be offered on an individual basis either in person or via teleconferencing, or in a small group setting. The result is clear, effective spoken communication.

The program begins with an assessment that identifies speech sounds that differ in the participant’s spoken English, and any speech patterns that may interfere with the intended transmission of information. It continues with a series of engaging sessions that are customized so the participant may learn more accurate pronunciation of the sounds of Standard American English. We like to keep the training sessions interesting without sacrificing quality or value.

Training may individual either in person or via teleconferencing, or in a small group setting.

Training may individual either in person or via teleconferencing, or in a small group setting.

After completion of the training sessions, a final assessment is performed to measure overall improvement. Typical participants in PESL training demonstrate improvements in their speech of 50 to 80%, along with additional benefits that are not so easily measured. These include improved voice control, increased confidence, and a significant improvement in professional performance.

Speech training with the PESL method is particularly beneficial to individuals who interact with a large network of people, such as professionals in the corporate world, healthcare practitioners, IT professionals and consultants, and students and professors in academia. Really, anyone who speaks English with an accent can benefit from PESL training.

At Lingua East, we are certified to provide PESL speech coaching. If you would like to become a more effective communicator, complete a free screening today or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you and to help you take the first step toward clear communication. Let them hear your ideas, not your accent.

20 Reasons to Work on Your Accent

Still wondering about the benefits of accent modification services? Let the following reasons convince you.

  1. Be understood. When you work on your accent with a certified speech trainer, the result is clearer communication. People will understand you better.
  2. Be a role model for others. You can show others through everyday conversations that change is possible. The people you know will notice a change in your speech over time. You have more power than you can imagine.
  3. Experience professional success. Get that promotion, build your network, and climb the ranks with improved communication. You will be able to do your job better when communication isn’t a barrier.
  4. Learn more. When you take action to improve your accent, you will be able to learn from other people. Experts will better understand your questions and as a result, you’ll get new information and learn new skills.
  5. Look better. Your stylist will understand you better when you explain that tasteful new cut that will give you the perfect new look you want.ballooning
  6. Share your interests with others. With clear communication, you will be able to share your knowledge, experience, and hobbies with others. Doing this can open doors to unexpected adventures, in the most rewarding way.
  7. Get lost less often. When others understand your speech, asking for directions from strangers in gas stations is a more comfortable experience.
  8. Be better regarded by others. Having an accent is not a bad thing. However, negative perceptions related to accents are an unpleasant reality. The good news is you can improve the way you are perceived by others by working on your accent.
  9. Build your confidence. When you know how to get your point across, you can focus on what’s really important. And that’s a powerful thing. Take advantage of accent modification services and take charge.
  10. Get your point across. With worries about your speech out of the way, you can focus on what’s really important. People should hear your ideas, not your accent.
  11. Have more interesting conversations. How many times a week do you have to explain to people your life story: where you’re from, why you came, and everything else? And if you’ve been in the area a long time, how annoying is it to get the well-meaning question, “How do you like living here?” When you work on your accent, you get these questions less and less often, and you have more time for more interesting conversations.
  12. Repeat yourself less often. Work on your accent so people will understand you the first time. Work on your accent so people will understand you the first time. (Did I make my point?)
  13. Give better presentations. Public speaking doesn’t have to be painful. But for many, it is. Accent modification services can give you the tools you need to wow everyone in the boardroom.
  14. Be happier with your friends and colleagues. When the people in your life understand your speech, it is easier for you to clearly tell people what you want. When they know what you expect, they will fulfill and maybe even surpass your expectations.money
  15. Make more money. Clear communication has its benefits. Impress your boss, take the next step, and reap the rewards. It starts with you.
  16. Increase your chances of being a movie star. Lots of actors work with speech trainers. Work on your accent and deliver your lines in an award-winning performance.
  17. Make a better first impression. Let the true you shine through when you meet someone new. Engage others with your ideas, not your accent, and you’ll instantly charm.
  18. Make more friends/meet new people. When you can communicate clearly, your world gets bigger. Meet new people and make more friends, wherever you speak.talking fun
  19. Be able to spend time with those people in different places. Research shows that people with light accents are better understood in noisy environments. Don’t let your accent hold you back from taking your friends to that loud restaurant you love. If you work on your accent, you will find that communicating in English with the locals in foreign countries is easier, too.
  20. Enjoy talking on the phone. It can be harder to have a successful conversation on the phone with an accent. Without the visual clues that listeners pick up from facial expressions and gestures, telephone communication can leave something to be desired. After working on your accent with a certified speech coach, you will have the skills and confidence to have great phone calls.

Change your accent and improve your life. It all starts with you. Contact us today to get started.

Accent Modification Services at Lingua East

At Lingua East we provide a range of communication training services. The service that is most near and dear to us is accent modification. Our accent modification services help individuals speaking English as a second language to improve their pronunciation and clarity, so they can have greater success in their professional and recreational lives. We have firsthand experience of that uncomfortable feeling you get someone identifies you more by your accent than your ideas. We believe that if you bothered to learn another language, then you obviously have some great ideas Let us help you communicate better.

workbooksOur accent modification service starts with a thorough assessment. We will ask you to pronounce different words, sentences, and to read longer passages, so we can learn more about you and your language history, your speech production, and other characteristics of your communication. For our clients, part of the assessment just feels like a conversation. But for us, it is a time to analyze your typical speech. Most people communicate in more than one word at a time. We tend to pronounce words differently when they are in sentences, or connected speech.

After we’ve explained to you the results of your assessment, we’ll work together to come up with some realistic goals for your speech. This is a collaborative process, and we want the goals to benefit you most at work or wherever your English matters most. We’ll discuss how the different aspects of your speech affect how others hear and understand you, and come to an agreement on the best targets for accent modification training.

Goals are selected on an individual basis. Your goals may be different from your friend’s goals, even if you share the same native language. At Lingua East, we pride ourselves on providing customized training to optimize success. Your training objectives are expertly designed, just for you.

The training process is easy and fun. Training session activities, like goals, are specially designed to help you master the accent and communication skills that can take you to the next level. Activities may include word drills to perfect your pronunciation of frequently used work vocabulary, simulations of professional conversations (for example, explaining the setup of a new database to a coworker), work with kazoos, or more. Activities are selected with consideration for each individual client’s communication strengths and needs.

Outside of training sessions you will be asked to complete practice activities, based on your objectives. These activities serve to give you greater independence with your new communication skills and help to solidify concepts addressed in training. The tasks also save you time and money by helping you to advance your skills and get closer to meeting your goals outside of training.

Researchers have demonstrated that change in second language skills cannot occur without feedback. Knowing this, our licensed, certified speech-language pathologist will walk you through the accent modification process, giving you the correct level of feedback, each step of the way. We will even teach you something new about pronunciation, using visuals to explain challenging speech sounds. Feedback is a big part of learning (just ask B.F. Skinner). Wherever you are in the process, we adjust our feedback, so you can experience maximal learning.

conversationSometimes the way we talk can interfere with how others understand us. When you come to Lingua East for accent modification in Charlotte, it’s all about you. From assessment to goal selection to training activities, our accent modification services are custom designed for you, the individual. We refuse to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to accent modification, simply because we want you to be as successful as possible. After all, we want them to hear your ideas, not your accent.

We are now offering a discount of 33% off accent modification services until February 28, 2017. Contact us to take advantage of this deal today!

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