Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Part 1: Can you do this?
Many Speech-Language Pathologists (or Speech Therapists, depending upon where you’re from) wonder about their ability to do Accent Modification (also known as Accent Reduction and Accent Acquisition). They wonder if they have the knowledge, training, and business ability to strike out on their own and create a private practice that includes Accent Modification. Well, let’s walk through each of those aspects and address them. Some are easy, some are hard, and but none are impossible!
As Speech Therapists every single one of us has earned degrees that have taught us about the place, manner and voicing of every sound in the English language. We know, like the back of our hands that /p/ and /b/ are unvoiced and voiced cognates. We understand which articulators are involved in each sound and what they should be doing. We understand the role of breath support and nasality in speech. We also know how suprasegmentals of speech impact communication, intelligibility, and the ‘naturalness’ of speech.
Speech-Language Pathology is a profession that is uniquely knowledgeable about speech in a way that no other profession can match!
Speech Therapists are also knowledgeable about mediation and remediation of speech and language disorders… Which is patently obvious to all of us. We have had significant course work in phonetics, voice and language and the treatment of said disorders. To apply that same knowledge to working with non-disordered clients who want to change or improve their accent is, generally, a simple matter.
It does take some skill to transfer over to a client base who has different needs and expectations, but it is much like making cupcakes instead of a cake. Yes, they are different, but the basic ingredients are the same.
In short, Speech-Language Pathologists are not only knowledgeable enough to perform Accent Reduction, but are the people best suited to do so.
While we have the knowledge, it is another matter entirely as to whether we have the training to do Accent Modification.
The jump from working with disordered clients, students or patients to working with people, usually professionals, who have no disorder and yet are highly motivated to see change in their speech, can be difficult. We are often used to following protocols, programs or models of treatment and to be thrown into a world where we do not have those can be concerning to many of us, to say the least.
Luckily there is training available for those who want it, such as Compton PESL, or books such as Mastering the American Accent, but many Speech Therapists use their own expertise to provide excellent instruction based in clinical methods that work well for disordered speech.
When it comes down to it, correcting an articulation error requires the same basic concepts as modifying an accented sound. Developing appropriate suprasegmentals of speech in disordered speech requires the same basic concepts as developing native sounding suprasegmentals of speech for an Accent Modification client.
In the end, you will decide for yourself what you are comfortable doing. I can personally recommend the Compton PESL method as I have used it with many clients. It provides a solid framework that allows a Speech-Language Pathologist to create and follow a systematized approach to improving English pronunciation.
Yet with many clients I have also created and developed entirely novel plans based on their specific issues and concerns. There is no right or wrong way, each individual trainer will develop into their own style through practice and training along the way.
With knowledge and training come competence in instruction, but the ability to create a business around that instruction is an entirely different skill set.
The good news is that this skill set entirely learnable, and that once you know what you’re doing it becomes much easier. Additionally, many of the things you need done you can have other professionals do or use online services to handle.
Here’s an abbreviated list of the steps needed:
- Deciding how you want your business structured (individual, sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.).
- Doing the legal work to set up that structure, if it is needed.
- Setting up banking for your business.
- Setting up a way for your business to get paid.
- Marketing to find clients (websites, advertising, referrals, etc.).
- Making the pitch and sale to those clients.
- Booking clients.
- Meeting with clients (platform considerations, etc.).
- Billing clients.
- Handling taxes and other financial responsibilities.
For the first two items, the best thing you can do is find a competent accountant or firm that handles these things. They will be able to tell you which kind of business makes sense for you, and help you through the process of creating it. I decided to set up my private practice in Wyoming through an LLC Agency and it cost me $199. From there I contacted my credit union and they helped me through the process of creating a business bank account for no extra fees. After that, I set up a Stripe account so I could take credit card payments and I started using a accounting/bookkeeping app called Zoho Books.
This process was mostly simple and straightforward with other service providers doing the majority of the work for me for very reasonable fees or for free!
The pain point hit when I got to marketing… The costs started looking high and the difficulty rose considerably. For years I struggled with this aspect until I finally just decided that if this was tough for me it was probably tough for all of us, so I, with a hard working team, created a service to connect Speech Therapists to Accent Modification clients.
Accent Connection (www.accentconnection.com) takes the work out of marketing and advertising and lets you do your job: Helping clients! By subscribing to our service you get the opportunity to create a profile that clients can browse. They can then message you and you can connect with them to discuss how you can help them improve their accent with your services.
We spend thousands of dollars to bring you those clients so you don’t have to learn how to build and deploy Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising on sites such as Google, Facebook, Pinterest and others, monitor and perform single and multi-variate testing on those ads, develop and maintain a marketing funnel that provides a pathway to move Interested People through the process of becoming Learners and finally transforming them into Buyers.
We’re very excited to offer this service to you, and we hope you’ll consider signing up! Click here for a special, limited time offer!