Here's How to Do Accent Modification: A Manual for Speech-Language Pathologists

First Edition

Robert (Bob) McKinney

Details: 306 pages, B&W, Softcover, 8.5" x 11"

ISBN13: 978-1-63550-007-3

© 2019 | Available

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Here's How to Do Accent Modification: A Manual for Speech-Language Pathologists is designed for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) working with clients on accent modification in American English. A growing number of non-native speakers are interested in improving their communication skills and SLPs need preparation to work with this clientele. The text provides copious advice and many diverse techniques for teaching accent modification, from the level of basic sounds to the level of discourse.

The text emphasizes realistic goal setting, so that clients focus on becoming effective communicators as opposed to sounding exactly like native speakers. The objective is a balance between clear and natural speech. Many SLPs favor intelligibility over naturalness because of their backgrounds working with speech delayed children, but with non-native speakers this often leads to unnatural speech and listeners focus on how something is said as opposed to what is said.

Here's How to Do Accent Modification is uniquely geared toward the skills and backgrounds of SLPs working with clients in a one-on-one setting, but is also an excellent introductory text for any English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher. Robert McKinney brings this unique perspective as a speech-language pathologist with degrees in both Communication Disorders and Teaching English as a Second Language.

Also included with the text are numerous practical activities and worksheets for working with clients. A PluralPlus companion website presents the worksheets in a downloadable format along with audio files and video clips to demonstrate working with non-native speakers.

In this video, McKinney explains the guiding principles in accent modification.


"A unique aspect of the book is the testimonials in the early chapters from students, supervisors, and clients who describe their experiences during accent modification therapy. The tables and clinical examples in each chapter are valuable. Beginning with chapter 3, each chapter contains an appendix with sample forms from assessment tools to assimilation activities. These forms are also included in the companion website."
Lorelei J Peirson, MA, Biola University, in Doody's Book Reviews (May 2019)

“This book is intended primarily to be used by [Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs)] who work with or wish to work with non-native English speakers. It would also be useful for voice coaches/teachers and teachers of English as a Foreign Language. It is designed to be used to support clients who have not achieved the degree of intelligibility and naturalness required for effective communication in English and who are therefore likely to face significant barriers to personal and professional success. […]
The book is arranged into 11 chapters. A chapter on assessment gives suggested information-gathering frameworks such as phone screening and mini, standard and full assessment, sample assessment forms and word lists and passages for the client to read as speech samples. The therapy chapters cover segmentals, suprasegmentals, consonants, vowels, stress, prosody and connected speech, all aimed at helping clients to find a balance of intelligibility and naturalness. There are also appendices containing demonstration of some of the theoretical principles, worksheets, group and pair activities and client handouts. This wide range of resources is helpfully provided in online printable documents, in addition to being included in the book.

—Jo Levett, in Communicating Voice (Autumn/Winter 2020)


Chapter 1. Accents
Our Accents
Effective Communication
Awareness, Training, and Counseling
Our Role

Chapter 2. Accent Modification
Who Provides Accent Modification?
Where SLPs Practice Accent Modification
How Does Accent Modification Work?
Who Are Our Clients?
Does Accent Modification Work?

Chapter 3. Assessment
Segmental Assessment
Intelligibility Assessment
Suprasegmental Assessment
Assessing Pragmatics
Evaluating Through Listening and Writing
Evaluating Language
Assessment Packages
Final Thoughts

Chapter 4. Segmentals Overview
Working with Sounds
Principles of Segmental Training
Target Selection

Chapter 5. Suprasegmentals Overview
Patterns of Speech

Chapter 6. Consonants
Working with Consonants
Problematic Phonemes

Chapter 7. Vowels
Introduction to Vowels

Chapter 8. Syllables and Stress
The Syllable
Syllables and Endings
Lexical Stress

Chapter 9. Prosody
Phrasal Stress

Chapter 10. Connected Speech
Overview of Connected Speech
Linking Consonants
Linking Vowels
Putting It All Together

Chapter 11. Getting Started
Getting More Training
Additional Resources
University Clinics
In Their Own Words


Robert (Bob) McKinney

Robert (Bob) McKinney, M.A., CCC-SLP, is the lead Speech-Language Pathologist at the Sweetwater Union High School District, where he heads the district's Culturally/Linguistically Diverse Assessment team. At San Diego State University, he supervises graduate students in the Accent and Communication Training Program and teaches phonetics. He had a 26-year career as a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) instructor, teaching and conducting teacher training in six countries, including 17 years at UCSD's English Language Institute. He holds an M.A. in Communicative Disorders, an M.A. in Education/TESOL, and an M.A. in International Relations. He speaks six languages and has worked with clients from more than 80 countries. Bob is active in the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association and has served on its board of directors.

Learn More

Purchasers of this book receive complimentary access to supplementary materials hosted on a PluralPlus companion website.

To access the materials, log in to the website using the URL and Access Code located inside the front cover of your copy of Here's How to Do Accent Modification.

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