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  • Columbia Speech and Language Services Inc. Vancouver BC.Canada
  • Columbia Speech and Language Services Inc. Vancouver BC.Canada
  • Columbia Speech and Language Services Inc. Vancouver BC.Canada
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Frequently Asked Questions

Accent Reduction - Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is the advantage of taking an accent reduction course at Columbia Speech and Language Services, Inc. (CSLSI)? 

A: We have been offering, in Vancouver, foreign accent reduction since 1987.  We were the first SLPs in Western Canada to do so.  Our experience is vast and varied.  We have had 27 years of experience during which time we have fine-tuned and improved our accent reduction methods to make our accent improvement techniques practical and successful. Also, we are a small, owner-operated clinic that takes your trust in us seriously.  We are still under the management of clinic owner and founder Wendy Duke.  We are not part of a large national or international franchise as are some agencies that provide foreign accent reduction.  We customize our foreign accent modification programs for the specific and unique needs of each and every one of our valued clients.  Click here to see what some of our clients have said about our accent reduction therapy.  Clients are seen either by Wendy Duke or by our very experienced SLP and accent reduction specialist, Tracey Jalovec, who has been working at Wendy’s side for 15 years.

Q:  Why would I come to a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to work on accent reduction training instead of an English teacher?

A: SLPs are clinical professionals trained to the master’s degree level and beyond in all aspects of speech production and techniques to improve speech. SLPs have detailed knowledge about how the mechanics of speech, such as your tongue and lip movements and voice, can affect your accent.  Even more importantly, we have practical training and experience in how to guide people in the complicated process of changing the way you speak and making these changes become a habit.  SLPs routinely help people with serious speech problems, such as stuttering or voice disorders, that are much more complicated than accent reduction therapy.  We use accent reduction exercises and accent modification techniques that are based on our skills, training and experience with speech therapy.  A final advantage of seeing an SLP for your accent reduction therapy is that the SLP can also give you guidance with other aspects of your speech, such as voice difficulties, so that you can get voice and accent training in one place.

Q:  How frequent are the sessions?

A: Most commonly, people take our accent reduction course in one or two appointments per week, depending on which course they sign up for (individual, small group or combined) and their schedule. There is flexibility for people registered in our individual programs to take their accent improvement training on a different schedule if more convenient.

Q:   I notice that you offer this program either one-on-one or in a small group.  Isn't it always better to be seen individually?

A: No, not necessarily.  People tend to meet their goals more easily by taking a program with a group component, such as our small group program or our intensive accent reduction program. In a group program, you practice your new speaking skills with other participants, not just with your instructor.  In one-on-one programs, you must work harder to "transfer" your new speaking skills to situations outside of the instruction room.

Q:  If, as you have said, a group component is important for most people, then why do you offer the option of taking this program on a one-on-one basis?

A: There are several situations in which individual accent reduction training is better.  For instance, you may have a work schedule that takes you out of town periodically or requires evening meetings on short notice.  If so, you may miss too many group sessions to benefit from a group program;  in this case, we would recommend that you take the program on an individual basis.  Or, if your comprehension of English is not sufficient to keep up with the pace of the group program, we would recommend that you have one-on-one sessions.  Or, it may be that you need to complete the program by a certain deadline that conflicts with our group schedule, in which case we will design a schedule that meets your individual needs.

Q:  I’ll be going away for two weeks. Will it be OK for me to miss a couple of weeks or should I wait until I’m back to start an accent reduction program?

A:  If you are taking an individual program it doesn’t matter if you miss a week or two as we will simply schedule around your availability.  If you are taking a group or combined program, you should give us as much notice as possible so that we can plan the group session for the week you are gone to be targeted around accent reduction tips that are less relevant for you.  We will also ask other group members if they might be willing to reschedule the session you need to miss.  If you will be gone for more than one or two weeks in a group program, we recommend that you wait until you expect to be more available.  Although timing of appointments is more flexible in an individual program, if you plan to be gone for an extended period of time or for multiple trips, we recommend that you delay your enrollment to a time that you are more available.

Q:  How does the program work?

A:  Prior to beginning lessons, each client meets with us for an individual consultation including a recorded speech assessment.  We use that assessment to complete a personalized analysis of your speech.  This analysis becomes the blueprint for your program.  Whether you are in our individual, group or intensive program, you will only work on sounds that you have difficulty with.  If you don’t have a problem with the “th” sound, for instance, we will never waste your time working on it.  We will work on those things that are relevant to you.  Each time you meet with your instructor, she will provide you with a new target sound or target skill.  She will explain to you how it is pronounced by native speakers of Canadian English and will also explain to you how your production differs.  You will have lots of practice hearing the difference and will be given customized accent reduction tips based on your error.

Q:  Does the program just work on speech sounds?

A:  No.  Speech sounds are a very important part of Canadian English pronunciation but only one part.  In addition to working on sounds, we will work on intonation, muscle use, resonance, rate of speech, word juncture and more. (If any of these terms are unfamiliar to you, don’t worry – we will explain them at length during the program.)

Q:  Will my extended health benefits cover this service?

A:  Quite possibly.  Most people who have extended health benefits (EHB) have some coverage for services provided by registered speech-language pathologists.  You will need to check into your own plan to see whether or not you are covered, to what dollar amount per year you may be covered, documentation required by the EHB plan, and any other details of your particular plan. We will provide you with a receipt and you can seek reimbursement as per your EHB’s policies.

Q:  My extended health benefits plan expires at the end of the year and then I get more benefits after January 1st.  Can you schedule some of my sessions after January 1st so that I get them reimbursed too?

A:  Yes, we can.  We are happy to schedule sessions so as to maximize any health benefits you are entitled to.

Q:  Why is it so expensive?

A: There are two main reasons why we charge a professional rate.  First, your accent reduction program will be delivered by a speech pathologist with a master’s degree (and years of further training and experience in delivering accent modification services) who is a member of a regulated profession.  You should not confuse this service with that provided by an accent reduction tutor, teacher or accent coach who does not need to meet the same qualifications or have the same training. 

Second, your training will be provided on a very individualized basis – either one-on-one, or in a very small group.  Every client, whether seen privately or in a small group, has an individual assessment and analysis of their speech prior to the first session;  the program is always customized to your own needs.  This is not simply an accent reduction “class” with numerous students taught by one instructor.  This is a customized, individualized service delivered by highly trained professionals who use different accent reduction exercises for different clients based on their needs.  In our 27 years of experience, we have discovered that it is critical for each client’s program to be tailor-made for them based on their own speech analysis.

Q:  Is there GST on accent reduction training at Columbia Speech and Language Services, Inc. (CSLSI)?

A:  No.  Accent reduction therapy provided by the registered speech pathologists at CSLSI is exempt from GST.

Q:  Will I have homework?

A:  Yes.  The homework is not difficult, but it is important that it is done regularly and with focused attention.  Your home program and your own accent reduction tips will be customized to your needs based on your own speech analysis.  It is entirely up to you how much time you spend on it, but, quite simply, the more you put into your home practice, the more you will get out of your Vancouver accent modification program.

Q:  Will I get practice materials?

A:  All clients registered in any of our prepaid accent reduction courses receive a complete set of complimentary practice materials.  (These materials are reserved for clients who enroll in a course and are not available for people who receive instruction on a session by session basis.)

Q:  Will my accent be completely gone when I finish the program?

A: No.  Participants can improve pronunciation and learn to speak English with more confidence, but "accent elimination" or "accent neutralization" is not a realistic goal for most people.  You will learn how to improve your English pronunciation and how to speak English with a Canadian accent to a better degree than before you entered the program, but you should not expect that you will lose your accent completely.  We advise you to set the goal of "pronunciation improvement."

Q:  Will the other group members have the same language background as me and similar accents?

A:  Probably not. Our Vancouver accent modification groups include people from a wide variety of language backgrounds. Participants get to compare their original languages and enjoy interesting discussions about the challenges of pronouncing the sounds of Canadian English. This is often very helpful as it is usually easier to learn how "not to pronounce a sound" by listening to the mispronunciation of someone from a different language background and then applying that critical listening skill to your own speech.  Each person works towards goals set with instructors after the initial, customized,  speech assessment.

Q:  What kind of guarantee do you provide?

A:  We provide no guarantee of outcome.  Not only would it be contrary to our professional code of ethics to do so, it would not make sense;  the single biggest factor in determining outcome is the effort that you put into the program yourself to "train your accent".

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