Triangle Speech Services Logo 600 dpi
Accent on News

April 2010       
Issue 30

The Dance of Science and Art:
The DIVA Model 
 (Revised June 2016) 
In This Issue
Hitting the Reset Button Over and Over!
Our Programs
The DIVA Model
TELL US YOUR STORYFeatured Article
Business  Woman Lecturing

If you are a foreign born professional, we would like to hear from you. We are very interested in the story of how you have created a successful and prosperous life in the United States.

We would be happy to feature your story in a future issue.

accents from 
barriers to 
cultural flavors!


Basic Level:
Compton P-ESL: Current Online Revision (2016)

Medically Speaking

Regional Dialects:
Speak Standard, Too!

MEEC (Mastering Effective English Communication)

We are passionate about helping our clients speak English with greater clarity and confidence. Are you willing to "do what it takes" to change long-standing speech habit patterns?

  Triangle Speech Services is a small company of licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who specialize in foreign accent and regional dialect modification and related communication skills.
     Coaches, teachers and clinicians deal with instructional challenges today, right now!! It is wonderful to proceed from certainties validated by research in every field, especially in the area of human behavior and specifically, language and speech. Often, however, one must make decisions based on clinical judgment and experience.  If outcomes fall short of predictions and expectations, a good teacher develops new strategies and then observes the results. "Evidence-based practice" is the current standard towards which we all aspire!
     Last week, at the Spring Conference of the North Carolina Speech Hearing and Language Association (NCSHLA), I spoke  with a colleague who is an assistant clinical professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Her research interests include bilingual language acquisition.  I was describing a new, aggressive technique I have been teaching my clients since March to "reprogram" their speaking patterns and carry over correct pronunciation of key words in their professional fields into daily usage. "Carryover" is a historically difficult challenge for speech-pathologists working with individuals of all ages, not to mention adults who are trying to reduce their accented speech in busy, high stakes professional environments.
   My colleague smiled and scribbled these words on a sticky note which is still pasted on my computer as I write this: "DIVA Model," "Guenther," "feedback," "feedforward."  This is the story of the amazing validation I experienced when I "Googled" these terms, a story of the meeting of science and art!

Hitting the "Reset" Button ... Over and Over and Over.
Woman giving presentation
We "capture" key words that each client needs to pronounce clearly and correctly by having clients describe their work beginning with their job title! 
Meanwhile, we have been working to help clients produce correct sound patterns for speech sounds not in their repertoire from the native language such as "th" and "er" and the short "ih" (not "ee") sound and always address intonation.

In 2014 we set up an Awareness and Self-Correction drill for three words with one target sound. The client does a guided drill the night before and sets an intention to be aware of those few words in conversation the next day.

Every time the client "catches" himself mispronouncing an accented word with a specific target in the real world, in conversations or presentations, he or she is to stop and pronounce it correctly. This "hits the reset button," strengthening the correct (neuro-motor) habit pattern and weakening the incorrect habit pattern. Listeners will remember the last thing they heard: the final impression is the lasting impression! My theory is that, with repeated patterns of self-correction, the incorrect pattern will be extinguished and the correct patterns reinforced by the successful speaking experience!
 Guenther's  DIVA Model
Neural Schema Model

 This picture is not a schema of his model but just illustrates the idea of an interconnected system. DIVA (Directions Into Velocities of Articulators) is a neural network model that describes speech motor skill acquisition and speech production. Guenther states that speech production requires the brain to integrate information from three systems: auditory (hearing), somatosensory (touch and sensation) and motor (movement patterns). (Guenther, F.H. (2006) Cortical interactions underlying the production of speech sounds. Journal of Communication Disorders,   39 (5), 350-365. 
The abstract of this article states that, "New speech sounds are learned by first storing an auditory target for the sound..." [This is what I called "internalizing the correct sound pattern of a word."]  "... then using the auditory feedback control system to control production of the sound in early repetitions."   {He was describing babbling behaviors of infants; I am calling this "catching yourself and self-correcting"  in adults.]  "Repeated production of the sound leads to tuning of feedforward commands which eventually supplant the feedback-based control signals."  He goes on to state that this is speculative but explains a wide range of neuroimaging data collected (with MRI studies of the brain) during speech production.
   The DIVA model identifies specific regions of the brain involved in these feedback and feedforward control systems! Guenther conducts these studies in the Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems of Boston University, The Division of Health Sciences and Technology of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Mass. General Hospital.
  I am not a scientist or computer expert and I am sure that many of the readers of this newsletter will have a better grasp of the details of this research. Granted, my clients are working with more complex acoustic patterns of words in conversation. However, it would appear that the basic principles of pattern learning, recognition, adjustment and habituation are very similar, and I thank my colleague at UNC for bringing this research to my attention.
  I am grateful to my colleagues in academia who can keep up with research in much greater depth than I can. After 43  years (Can it be?) as an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist which include specializing in accent modification since 2005, I know there is always more to learn. I want my clients to benefit from all of my experience AND continually updated knowledge.
   We invite you to click on Triangle Speech Services  to visit our informative website. We encourage you to contact us at 919-489-5464 for more information about our programs.

Judith L. Bergman M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist and Corporate Speech Trainer
Founder & Director of Triangle Speech Services