The following article talks about why people take accent training and the benefits they receive from accent modification training.

Accent training: the finishing touch

By Stephanie McFeeters / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Lai Xu had studied English since she was a teenager in China. She had a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University. But as a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh, she realized many of her patients could not understand her.

So she enrolled in UPMC’s Foreign Accent Modification Program, a course aimed at students and professionals who are usually proficient in English, but have strong accents that make it hard for people to figure out what they’re saying.

Dr. Xu, 35, is now completing her residency at the University of Iowa, and said the lessons she learned in the UPMC course have significantly improved her ability to work with patients. As a Ph.D. student, she said, her accent was not a problem, but as she began practicing medicine, she realized she needed to speak more clearly.

At the start of the course, students complete an evaluation that measures their pronunciation against a standard American accent. Sara Byers, one of the program’s three speech language pathologists, said lessons are then tailored to fix their mistakes.

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