Corporate Accent Testing
The ALTA Accent Reduction Program is aimed at making the students more understandable to native, American-English speakers. ALTA’s students are already advanced English speakers with reasonably good comprehension and communication skills. Their grammar and vocabulary are usually quite good. Their problem is that Americans do not understand them.
Most organizations can only devote a limited amount of training time to accent reduction. Usually the group training is compressed into a two-day program focused on accent. Unfortunately, accent change requires considerable practice to make the changes needed in speaking habits. This change occurs relatively slowly.
ALTA’s program is designed to give the student the knowledge of what his/her accent problems are, the know-how to correct the problem, the assurance that he/she can correct the problem, then access to self-practice materials to make the change. ALTA provides testing before and after the training so that the students and management can see the progress and whether each student meets minimum levels of performance.
The Accent Reduction Program is designed to help the individual student change his/her accent. The major steps in accomplishing this change are:
- Initial Assessment: Each student reads a customized text that contains all of the possible pronunciation and intonation problems that a person from that language group can have in English. The reading is recorded. We analyze the recording to identify the student’s specific pronunciation and intonation problems. A customized Accent Assessment Report is created and given to the student. Some clients use this score as part of the hiring process.
- Group Training Sessions: The group then works with a certified-ALTA Accent Reduction Teacher. The teacher works on the group’s pronunciation and intonation problems. Whenever possible, important company terminology and sentences are emphasized. Considerable practice is provided through pair work and role-play simulations that are appropriate for the group. Each student is provided lesson materials that contain the specific lessons corresponding to the accent problems he/she has in English. The student’s specific problems are identified in the initial Accent Assessment Report and specific lesson numbers are identified for each problem. For example, Lesson 67 (L67) focuses on the “i” sound as in it.
- Homework: The students are assigned homework by the teacher in class. The assigned homework is designed to be done without taking time away from the student’s personal time. Each student also has access to the online support materials to practice what was covered in class. Homework is essential for accent change. This is where the new accent “habits” are reinforced.
- Follow-up Assessment: At the completion of the Accent Reduction Program a second assessment is given. The process is the same as for the initial assessment, although the reading text is different. Many clients use the score on this second assessment by setting a minimum level of performance that is required to perform the job. ALTA also recommends to management to implement several specific policies that reinforce use of the American accent in the organization. These policies result in the employees reinforcing and helping each other improve their accents.
ALTA provides online support materials to the student. The support materials are located in the password-protected part of ALTA’s website (select Login to the left). The homework materials feature native, American-English speakers saying the lesson materials that are covered in the sessions with the teacher. The student can hear the proper pronunciation of the sounds and intonation as much and as often as needed. The homework materials are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. An internet-accessible PC with Windows 98 or higher operating system is required to see the homework. Many clients also require customer-specific support materials. This usually consists of four to eight online lessons that cover the client’s unique terminology and situations.