Speaking to someone who cannot understand you is frustrating. Now, there's help for people who learned English as a second language.
It comes in the form of a program focused on accent modification.
Speech/Language Pathologist Debbie Kutler says, "Every day I go to a restaurant or get a manicure, or meet a doctor or engineer who English is their second language and they definitely need help with pronunciation."
That's where Ms. Kutler and Methodist Hospital's new accent modification program come in. During the 13-week course, Kutler evaluates clients, analyzes their speech, sound-by-sound and helps them master pronunciation and more
"They'll speak very slowly or too fast, they don't have good eye contact and they might be soft-spoken," she says. "So a lot of times by improving those things you can improve intelligibility."
Dr. Stephan Thome understands the challenges. The oncologist came to the U.S. from Germany 15 years ago and while he learned English in school, there were still adjustments
He says, "Sometimes I have patients who have a hearing aid and they say, 'you have a German accent -- slow it down.' I write a lot down to make a point or do a little drawing so they understand exactly."
Dr. Thome has come so far that he now helps patients understand what other doctors are saying. Time and practice made him comfortable with two languages.
So far, one person has been through Methodist's program, a woman with a southern accent. The instructor says after completing the program, she felt more comfortable speaking in groups and at work.
For more information, contact Methodist Hospital at 354-4453.