Why do I have an accent?
Non-native English speakers often use the pronunciation and communication style of their native language when speaking in English, resulting in accented speech.  Below are 5 common problem areas that can interfere with intelligibility when speaking in English. Accent Modification training can be a great help in addressing these problem areas.

1.  Intonation
Intonation refers to the paralinguistic vocal features such as: pitch, loudness, resonance, quality and flexibility. Speakers vary these to  show intent and emotion.

2.  Stress
Stress is extremely important in English and carries a great deal of information. There is stress on both word and sentence levels. Stress can show contrast, if the information is old or new, the focus of the message and other information about the speaker’s intent.

3.  Thought Groups
This is how speakers’ group words into phrases to make their ideas clear.  Thought groups put information in understandable chunks to help lead the listener through the speaker’s message.

4.  Linking
Linking is how we transition from word to word. It is based on the last sound of the first word and the first sound of the next word. Without linking, speech sounds choppy and disconnected.

5.  Vowels /Consonants
English is not a phonetic language, so it is often hard to know how to pronounce  a word by its spelling. Pronunciation in English is based on sounds, not spelling. Some sounds in English (th for example) don’t exist in other languages.

Error in these areas can make it difficult to be understood by native English speakers. The degree of the problem will vary depending on one’s native language, awareness of English pronunciation rules, and personal differences in language learning ability.

What is your native language, and which areas do you find the most problematic?