Accent Reduction Assessment
ALTA’s Accent Reduction Assessment is a tool that measures an individual’s pronunciation and intonation relative to the Standard American Accent. The assessment will provide the client with a detailed report regarding the existence and, if so, the severity of his/her problems for each of the 88 English-American sounds/phonemes, an evaluation of his/her intonation, his/her speech speed as well as a final score which indicates the percentage of the American English sounds/phonemes the client say correctly when speaking. The Standard American Accent represents a score of 100. The closer an individual’s score is to 100, the closer that individual’s pronunciation or intonation is to the Standard American Accent.
The text contains all of the possible sounds (phonemes) of English and all of the different ways that intonation is used. The candidate reads the text and gives a speech sample into the ALTA recording line where the reading is recorded. The candidate’s performance is then scored. The results are reported to the client within three business days. See a sample of our Assessment report.
Test Design – Pronunciation
ALTA first defined the sounds (phonemes) that are used in American English. These phonemes are well-known and described in the accent literature. The frequency of use of each of these phonemes was identified by analyzing speech that is commonly used in general conversations. Each phoneme is weighted in the scoring based on its frequency of use. For example, the initial “p” sound in the word “peak” is used 1.48 percent of the time in general conversation. The recorded reading of the candidate is next analyzed to determine the severity of each pronunciation problem: none, minor, moderate, severe. The candidate’s score on the initial “p” sound is determined as 1.48 for no problem, 0.99 for a minor problem, 0.50 for a moderate problem and 0.0 for a severe problem. The scoring for all of the phonemes is totaled to give the pronunciation score.
Test Design – Intonation
ALTA first defined the frequency of use of the three major types of sentences used in general conversation: declarative, interrogative beginning with a question word, and interrogative not beginning with a question word. Each of these types is weighted according to the frequency of use. The recording of the candidate is analyzed for each sentence type considering the appropriate ending intonation and the tonal emphasis on nouns or verbs. In a process similar to the Pronunciation test described above, the intonation problems are determined as none, minor, moderate or severe. The scoring for all intonation types is totaled to give the intonation score.
Test Design – Speech Speed
Speech speed is the rate at which American English is spoken. The speech speed is measured in words per minute (wpm). The recording of the candidate is analyzed to evaluate whether the wpm interferes with comprehension by American-English speakers. A candidate’s speech speed can be too fast for native speakers to understand when pronunciation and intonation problems exist. Alternatively, it can be too slow, causing the speaker to sound not proficient in English.
Use of the Test
The ALTA voice accent test is an indicator of a candidate’s accent relative to the Standard American accent. The test is a good indicator of performance improvement in ALTA’s accent reduction programs.
Upon enrollment, the reading is provided to the client, and the voice accent test can be done at any time by calling ALTA’s automated test recording line.