Small Business Success: Speech Advantage

 Accent Freedom for ESL Speakers

“Could you please repeat that?”  Many people who speak English as a second language (ESL) are tired of being misunderstood due to their accented speech – in both their professional as well as personal lives.  “Accents can be charming and sometimes advantageous, but can also be problematic when instructions or ideas are miscommunicated, or when one or both parties are frustrated with the breakdown in conversation,” explains Barbara Christensen, owner of Speech Advantage.  “Additionally, when ideas or instructions are miscommunicated, there is a potential for substantial monetary loss to an individual or company.  In a medical setting, miscommunications can be life threatening.”

Since 1999, Speech Advantage has been working with foreign born professionals to give them the tools to communicate more efficiently and effectively when communicating in English.  Due to the need for clear and concise communication in the corporate world where English is the most frequently used business language, Speech Advantage recently developed a software product to improve English pronunciation.  “Accent Freedom” is an in-depth accent modification software program designed to improve American English pronunciation through self-study or instructor-led lessons.  Ms. Christensen clarified that Accent Freedom is not a tool for learning basic English vocabulary and grammar.  Accent Freedom focuses solely on reducing a non-native speaker’s accent to improve their English clarity.

Speech Advantage has been working with the SBTDC to help promote this accent reduction software to a global market.   Counselors, Fred Barringer, Alex Viva, and Pieter Swanepoel, were quick to understand Speech Advantage’s business plan and vision and were all immediately onboard to help promote and expand the business internationally.  They engaged Speech Advantage in brainstorming sessions and shared their combined expertise from diverse backgrounds.   They also suggested networking events, educational opportunities, and relevant webinars, as well as supplied many other resources to expand Accent Freedom’s reach.   Additionally, the counselors of the SBTDC were instrumental in introducing Speech Advantage to knowledgeable people within their own networks.  In several instances, those contacts also introduced Speech Advantage to THEIR contacts.

“We frequently hear of clients being given more work responsibilities, receiving promotions, or being more competitive in interviews with their improved communication skills.  We wanted to be able to offer this product and service worldwide,” explained Ms. Christensen when asked the reason for contacting the SBTDC.  “We appreciate this organization’s expertise and support to help us strategize in order to compete at a global level.”

Speech Advantage works both with corporations as well as individuals world-wide.  For more information about Speech Advantage and their accent modification software, Accent Freedom, visit or

Barbara Christensen, Speech Advantage

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