Who are these accent reduction lessons for?

Accent reduction can be seen as “learning” a neutral American accent. Accent lessons are for:

  • Anyone who has a solid understanding of English grammar and vocabulary, but still has trouble being understood because of their accent
  • Anyone with a foreign or regional accent who want to speak with a standard American accent
  • Those who wish to improve their verbal and non-verbal communication skills for their career or social life
  • Actors from any language or dialect background who wish to learn American English for a role
  • Any one of the above, who is also hard-working and motivated to learn and practice something new… if this sounds like you, go forth and bravely contact us today!

When and where are lessons?

Lessons are available by appointment throughout the week. Locations are:

  • Midwood, Brooklyn at East 18th and Quentin Road (Subway: B/Q at King’s Highway)
  • Also, online lessons are now available! Please contact us for information.

Are lessons group or individual?

At the present time, Accent Eraser primarily offers private, one-on-one accent lessons that are custom-tailored to suit the individual’s goals and speech needs. This ensures the most focused, personalized experience and therefore ensures the fastest progress possible. Having said that, very small group lessons may be available in certain cases, for example if 2 people (spouses, friends, or coworkers) have a similar language background and decide to sign up for accent lessons at the same time. Please contact us with inquiries.

Is teleconferencing available?

Yes, teleconferencing sessions via a video chat program (such as Skype) are available for those who don’t reside near New York City. Please contact us for more information.

Do you do corporate trainings or workshops?

Yes! Please contact us for more information.

What do we do during accent training?

The first session involves a careful evaluation of your speaking and listening skills. We discuss your language background and personal goals and ask you to read a bit out loud.

After your speech has been evaluated, accent lessons are custom designed to address your specific accent. As such, the exact content of lessons varies from person to person, but generally involves:

    • Perception/listening training to help your ear recognize the difference between certain important sounds.
    • Articulation training to help you learn how to produce relevant sounds; for example, you will learn how to move your mouth to make the sounds of American English.
    • Training to improve the intonation or “melody” of your speech as well as to improve stress and inflection. You will learn the rules of stress and intonation in American English.
    • Learning overall speaking skills and self-presentation skills, including culturally appropriate communication

I’m looking for English lessons to improve my grammar and vocabulary. Can you help me?

These are not English as a Second Language lessons; Accent Eraser specializes in teaching pronunciation, intonation, and all other typical aspects of speech that relate to being more clearly understood by native speakers of American English during spoken conversation.  Many English lessons offered today focus almost entirely on language elements such as grammar and vocabulary and may have little or no focus on accent and pronunciation. Due to this fact, many people first choose to take English lessons, and then after that, take an accent reduction course to take their speech to the next level of sounding more like a native speaker.

In sum, accent reduction lessons are ideal for those who are either simultaneously taking an English language class to strengthen their vocabulary and grammar skills, or for those who are already very familiar with English language elements, but have trouble being understood in everyday conversation due to their accent.

What are your rates?

For current rates, please contact us.

I see you’re a Speech-Language Pathologist. Is this speech therapy, and is it covered by health insurance?

Although the educational background of the Founder/Accent Instructor is in Speech-Language Pathology, and she holds a Speech-language Pathology license in New York State, when teaching accent lessons, the Accent Instructor is working in the capacity as exactly that- as an instructor, NOT as a speech-language pathologist or therapist. Why is that? Therapy involves treating a health condition, whereas having a foreign or regional accent as a result of bilingualism or bidialecticalism is a natural result of second language learning. Accents are NOT a speech/language disorder, health condition, or pathology of any kind. A doctor would not write a therapy referral for accent. In sum, health insurance would not cover accent lessons, and Accent Eraser does not accept health insurance.

I see you’re a Speech-Language Pathologist. I have a speech/language issue. Can you help me?

First, it’s recommended that you read the answer to the previous question. Accent Eraser offers lessons to help people learn the Standard American English accent. The instructor, Ilana Shydlo, does have an educational background of a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, and holds a Speech-Language Pathology License in New York. Speech-Language Pathologists have highly specialized training that make them uniquely qualified to help people articulate tricky sounds. Having said that, it should be noted that when giving accent lessons, Ms. Shydlo is NOT acting in a capacity as a Speech-Language Pathologist. That’s because accents are not a speech/language disorder, health condition, or pathology of any kind (rather, they are the natural result of second language learning.) In sum, these are American Accent Lessons being taught by a private instructor (not speech therapy services.) If you are concerned about a speech or language disorder, it’s recommended that you contact a Speech-Language Pathologist in your area who specializes in your area of concern.

How long will it take to “eliminate” my accent and sound like a native speaker of American English?

For those whose first language is not English:

The first part of this answer addresses native speakers of languages other than English: The answer depends on several factors, including the age you started to learn English, the intensity (hours per week) of training, and your “ear” for languages. At our consultation, we’ll formulate a personalized plan for you, including the duration of your training. Many people notice improvement after several sessions or even one session.  Improvement can be in the form of being more understandable to those around you, sounding more American (less accented), speaking with more clarity and confidence, or being better able to hear the difference between difficult English sounds.

It’s helpful to think of the process as learning a new accent rather than eliminating your current accent. When you learn a new accent, you can still switch back and forth between the old and new accent. Human language development teaches us that accents are deeply ingrained when we learn languages as children. As such, people who move to a different country after the age of puberty (approximately age 13) rarely eliminate 100% of their accent to the point of sounding like a native speaker. Accordingly, we focus on accent reduction rather than elimination. We encourage our students to set realistic goals that are helpful for everyday communication, such as being understood clearly by those around them, and improving their accent to the maximal extent possible.

For those whose first language is English, other than Standard American English:

Now to answer the questions as regards to native speakers of another dialect of English: much of the above discussion applies, and it should be added that those who have been exposed to American English as children, for example through films, are significantly more likely to be able to achieve native-like American accents in adulthood.

Ilana further discusses this topic on this blog post: Why don’t accents go away by themselves?