Q: How long does it take to change my accent?
A: Most students begin to see improvement in the very first session. For most students this is the first time they have ever been able to recognize what their problems are and take a structured approach to fixing the problems. By identifying the major problem areas and working on the most significant problems first improvement is made. It does not take many sessions and doing your homework, when others will start to say, “Your English has really improved!” or the number of times you hear, “Please say that again!” will decrease. At the end of two blocks of sessions (eight sessions total) most students have corrected more than 75% of their problems and their life is much easier.
Q: Can I change my accent if I cannot see the teacher’s mouth?
A: Yes. Seeing the mouth and tongue position is a minor part of learning to say a sound properly. The lesson materials contain pictures when needed to help you place your lips and tongue.
Q: Are the teachers speech pathologists?
A: No. Accent reduction is all about changing speech habits. There are certain techniques that are used to accomplish this change. Our Accent Reduction Teachers are English teachers who are trained in these special techniques. Once they are trained, they have earned the position of ALTA-Certified Accent Reduction Teacher.
Q: How does ALTA charge for Accent Reduction Programs?
A: We offer Accent Reduction in blocks of ten one-hour sessions. Included with each block is an assessment and access to the ALTA online support materials.
Q: What if I stop before I finish all of my sessions?
A: You can stop at any time. If you decide to stop for any reason, just tell us. If you stop within one year of starting, we will refund the money for sessions you have not taken.
Q: Can I pay for my sessions online or send a check or money order.
A: Yes, we offer all means of payment. All prices are in U.S. dollars.
Programs Based On My First Language
Q: Why are ALTA’s programs based on my first language?
A: Many of the pronunciation problems that you have are caused by you using a sound that is in your native language. The problem sounds that you have are similar to the problem sounds that other ESL students have from your native language. Native English speakers confirm this when they say that you have, for example, a Russian or Chinese accent. The ALTA Accent Reduction Programs are based on research that identified the specific sounds that each language group (e.g. French, Mandarin, Spanish, Japanese, etc.) has when speaking English. For example, 70% of native Spanish speakers have trouble properly pronouncing the st sound in stick, while native Mandarin Chinese speakers have no trouble at all with the st sound. In another example, the final l sound in feel is omitted by 67% of the Mandarin speakers and 17% of the Spanish speakers. Your native language tells us the typical problems that you MAY have. The assessment that you take at the beginning of the program tells us the specific problems that you DO have.
Q: I have not had success with using tapes or CDs in changing my accent. Why is this program better?
A: The ALTA Program first defines your problems based on your first language, then teaches you to say the sound properly with the help of your Accent Reduction Teacher. You also have the online homework lessons to reinforce what you learned in your sessions with your Accent Reduction Teacher. Unfortunately, most tape and CD accent reduction programs are not first-language specific and do not help you focus on your specific problems. Under these circumstances you waste a lot of time working on sounds that are not a problem for you, plus, you do not have a teacher to make sure that you are pronouncing words properly.
Q: How do I schedule my initial assessment?
A: You do not have to schedule your initial assessment. After you register online or by fax or mail, we send to you by email the reading as an Adobe Acrobat file (Acrobat Reader is available free at www.adobe.com.). We also provide a telephone number that you call to complete your reading. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We record your reading, and within a few business days we will have your assessment results to you by email.
Q: How do I schedule my sessions with the Accent Reduction Specialist?
A: You can schedule by telephone (404.920.3816) or email. Tell us who you are, the date and time you want to take your session and your time zone. Your time zone is very important because we schedule over many different time zones and do not want to miss your session because of a time misunderstanding. We will confirm your session and provide a telephone number to call. Many students set up a fixed schedule (for example, every Thursday at 7:00 pm), while other students prefer to schedule by appointment.
Q: Can I cancel my session or reschedule?
A: Yes. If you tell us by 4:00 pm (Eastern Time U.S.) on the business day before your session, you can cancel or reschedule without charge. After that time we do not have enough time to inform the Accent Reduction Teacher and will have to charge you for the session.
The Accent Reduction Teachers
Q: Who are the Accent Reduction Teachers?
A: ALTA has a well-defined process for certifying teachers.
- Candidate teachers first must demonstrate that they are experienced in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).
- Next the candidate teachers must take an accent test to demonstrate that they have the Standard American Accent.
- Candidates, who pass the accent test, receive training in how to teach Accent Reduction using ALTA’s methods and materials. Included in this is demonstrating understanding of how to teach pronunciation, intonation and word stress.
- Finally, the candidate teachers must pass ALTA’s live training exercises in which the teachers demonstrate that they can actually teach the lessons.
Once a candidate completes all four steps, he/she is recognized as an ALTA-Certified Accent Reduction Teacher. Certification is valid for three years.