Are Americans the only ones requiring you (assuming you have an accent) to work with a speech coach for accent reduction? The correct answer is a resounding, NO.
Accent reduction is a ridiculous term but it’s the common verbiage for learning the standard regional accent of wherever you live. And it’s very important to be understood by those around you, no matter where.
If you’re in London, England, it might be best to acquire the Standard English accent (RP) but if you’re living and working in Northern England then perhaps you’re best to adopt that accent. As I am originally from London, I slip effortlessly into the Standard English accent even though my everyday accent is Standard American, so, I am able to comfortably teach that, as well.
Here’s an interesting perspective. A Chinese student of mine, who was learning the Standard American accent, was speaking to an American. The American had been studying Mandarin for a few years and was excited to speak my student’s native language. Moments later, my Chinese student approached me begging to be saved from the American whose heavily American accented Mandarin was hard to comprehend making it a stressful conversation. Though the American’s vocabulary was fairly substantial, he would have benefitted from Mandarin accent classes. My student said she now appreciated how some Americans felt when they were speaking with her.
One more example; an Anglophone working at a financial institution in Montreal, Canada, who is fluent in French, was transferred out of her position to another where she had no contact with the public. Why?Some Francophone Montrealers were “offended” by her accent and demanded a native speaker. So, the Anglophone would have benefitted from an accent reduction coach.
Los Angeles is one of many multi-cultural and cosmopolitan cities where people from all over are mixing together professionally and socially. As I travel, I hear accents fusing into a beautiful song but I’m a speech coach and what is beautiful to me, may not be so for others. All languages need to be spoken in a way that makes it easy for the listener.
Currently, I’m learning to speak Spanish but because I’m an accent coach, I am so focused, perhaps too focused, on my accent. I want to make sure that when I speak Spanish, it’s easy to comprehend and truthfully, I want Spaniards to think I’m from Spain! That’s how serious I am about it.
Wish me luck! ¡Deséame suerte!