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Learning to shift sounds is an easier concept to accept than shifting our identities | An interview with Sylvie Lui

business communication entrepreneur goal setting pitching women in business Sep 09, 2020

Sylvie Lui, Founder and Executive Coach at SLVC voice training in London, is speaking at the upcoming event Introduction to Accent Training – Learn how to communicate clearly confidently on Tuesday 22nd September. The event is FREE and welcome to all! So book your place now HERE


Is accent training something that you’ve heard of before? Or thought about taking up?

In a place like the UK, there are so many different traditional accents that exist and so many more that can sound quite transient, where to a point we can’t seem to place where a person is originally from. Whilst in big cities like London and New York, where we can expect to find many more international expats and people who have immigrated to these cities, we all can still share a bit of our home and who we are through the sounds of our speech.

As an executive voice, accent and communications coach, I help people with finding their confidence through communicating with clearer intentions and voices and also from an understanding that not all people will understand us without some help, especially if we are from a different region, country or even continent itself!

Educators can have many different ethoses and philosophies on teaching accent training and you can find different words to describe it like: elocution, accent reduction, accent softening and I’ve even come across somewhere that referred to it as ‘glitches in your sound’.

I choose to teach from a holistic and modern point of view and carefully choose words that match my methodology, which are: accent shifting and accent training. I find that being clear with my purpose with helping people who have different sounds is hugely important. Allowing for my clients to feel that they can celebrate their own identities, mother tongues, languages they speak and where they come from is a liberating feeling. Learning to shift sounds is an easier concept to accept than shifting our identities, which many of us are not willing or wanting to do.

Oftentimes, accent training can easily be looked at from a scope of seeing that someone is not speaking ‘properly’, ‘well’ or ‘unintelligibly to the unexposed ear’. I personally feel that this does not contribute to a positive learning experience and choose to celebrate diversity and inclusion instead – a focus I specialise in when teaching others about their voices, accents and communication skills.

The best way to approach this via accent training is to learn about all the sounds that exist in the native accent of where someone is, whether it be Standard British English or General American. Following that, our knowledge of all these new sounds that exist will help us better in the moments when someone is not following our native/habitual sounds. At this point, we have a choice to move the conversation in using the skill for the specific sound we need to help them understand us.Without these skills, the only other place we can usually go to in a conversation is frustration, followed by emotionally fuelled voices with speaking louder more slowly, which can sometimes come off quite patronising.

Have you ever had a conversation where you couldn’t clearly understand the other person, for example, calling an overseas customer service number and can you recall what your instinctual feelings were in that type of situation? If you have found yourself in this situation and would like to learn how to navigate situations like this effectively in the future then join us for our FREE upcoming online masterclass, ‘Introduction to Accent Training’.


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