Fort Collins speech pathologist helps bridge international language gaps

Walker Discoe

Anyone who went through four full years of a high school foreign language course knows how difficult learning a second language can be.

Those who learn English for business or cultural reasons may feel alienated or left out because of their accents. This is where services like the one Fort Collins resident Brooke Fischer provides come into play. 

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Fischer is a speech-language pathologist who runs Accent Modification Services, LLC., a practice that focuses specifically on the targeted reductions of accents. She runs her practice from her home in Fort Collins by calling international clients through Skype for training. 

“We have specific skills that are helpful for people who want accent modification,” Fischer said. “We start with an analysis of their speech patterns, identify what needs to be improved, and from there just dig into the work and coaching of it.”

This is only for people who desire this. This is for people who say, ‘My accent is really inhibiting me from making that sales pitch’… it’s only when the person who seeks us out really wants it.” Brooke Fischer, speech-language pathologist

Fischer works with her clients to address three main areas of speech: the pronunciation of difficult vowels, difficult constants the client may be mispronouncing, and intonation and word-stress patterns. These last two make learning a new language tricky, as they are totally separate from grammar. Learning intonation, the natural rise and fall of successive words, is something native speakers instinctively replicate when hearing the language as a baby, but for second-language learners, the process is not always instinctive.

Gaby Murillo, a student who currently resides in Spain, is working with Fischer to steadily to reduce her accent when speaking English.

 “I think that the main change is in my mind,” Murillo wrote in a statement to The Collegian. “Now I’m always very aware of the sounds that I need to improve, and with the tools that Brooke has given me, I have everything I need to reduce my accent.”

Murillo began working with Fischer after she began speaking English more frequently, feeling that communication would become smoother and more fluid with a reduced accent.

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Accent Modification Services, LLC is a company whose goal is to eliminate accents as a barrier of understanding and communication. Accent Modification Services offers online private coaching or in person group sessions. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

“I work with English speakers and sometimes they have a hard time understanding some words,” Murillo wrote. “So, I decided that I need to improve my accent. I’m becoming very aware of my pronunciation while talking.”

According to Fischer’s website, “We value your linguistic identity and want to help you preserve it. Accent modification will not erase your accent, but will help you develop another sound that you can choose to use whenever you want to.”

In a way, Fischer views learning to reduce an accent as a skill, just as learning a second language is a skill. According to Fischer, by learning to reduce an accent an individual doesn’t forget how to speak with the accent. Just how if an individual learned to speak a second language, they wouldn’t forget how to speak their native one.

“This is only for people who desire this,” Fischer said. “This is for people who say, ‘My accent is really inhibiting me from making that sales pitch’… It’s only when the person who seeks us out really wants it.”

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More information on accent modification can be found on the following websites: 

www.accentmodificationservices.com/learn-more

www.asha.org/public/speech/development/accent-modification/

www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589943199&section=Key_Issues

Collegian reporter Walker Discoe can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @wdiscoe.