Speech 3: American Accent Acquisition & Special Topics in Speech

HB Studio offers both online classes and in-person classes at the Studio. Before your first class, please review the information outlined on the relevant page(s). Class titles below indicate which are running online vs. in person.

  • IN-PERSON CLASSES meet 1 day/week for the full 10-week term.
  • ONLINE CLASSES meet 1 day/week and are offered in 5-week Parts. Sign up for either Part A or Part B independently (5 weeks each), or join both for the full 10-week term. You may join Part B without taking Part A.

Continuing with the foundation laid in Speech 1 and Speech 2, you will develop and deepen your working knowledge of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as an essential and practical actor’s tool in service to the clarity of communication. Expanding upon this knowledge, Speech 3 will offer you the skills necessary to acquire accents (both North American and other), and to meet specific speech demands of a variety of texts. In addition the class will take on the study of a specific speaker, bringing that work into the body. The goal is to expand and deepen speech skills, acquiring greater specificity of articulatory action.

Whether you are interested in acquiring a North American accent absent the markers of regional speech, understanding how to approach accent work, or adjusting speech choices depending upon context and physical space, this workshop will offer you the skills needed in every actor’s tool kit.

Part A: Idiolect

Speech 3 Part A will focus on Idiolects, which are the specific unique characteristics and features of an individual person’s speech pattern. This study is useful for all speakers as it asks you to deepen listening skills, utilize IPA tools such as suprasegmental features, prosody, tone and accent, diacritics, vowel and consonant length, and more. You will choose one or more speakers (public personalities) you are interested in studying and embodying in order to deepen and expand your skill sets.

Part B: Special Topics in Speech

Playwrights and screenwriters frequently create contexts and given circumstances, that can challenge an actor’s speech skills. For example, numerous plays feature instances of alcohol and substance use, which have a profound impact on motor skills, including of course, speech. Playwrights have written characters with specific speech differences such as childhood fluency speech disorder (formerly called, ‘stuttering’) as well as other speech differences. These specific speech changes are, in fact, predictable and can be studied and acquired, as one might an accent or dialect. There are plays in which a single character ages from childhood to age, and there are not only vocal changes, but speech changes which occur with age. Successfully embodying neurological events such as stroke, aphasia, lung disease (which affects not only voice, but speech), and progressive neurological conditions, requires both sensitivity and skill. In this five week workshop, you will explore the specifics of how those conditioning forces impact speech. You will deepen your listening and observational skills, and be introduced to the Extended IPA Chart.


Recommended readingSPEAKING WITH SKILL: An Introduction to Knight-Thompson Speechwork by Dudley Knight.