What is the Compton PESL technique?

The PESL method of accent modification was first taught to professionals in 1985.  It was developed by Dr. Arthur J. Comton, Ph.D., CCC-SLP.

PESL (Pronouncing English as a Second Language) is a thorough program in pronunciation instruction designed for foreign-born individuals who are competent in English vocabulary and grammar but wish to improve the accuracy of their pronunciation.

PESL teaching begins with an assessment--the Phonological Assessment of Foreign Accent.  This standardized testing procedure analyzes an individuals ability to produce the phonemes of general American English in word, sentence and reading contexts.  The instructor conducting the assessment uses the analysis to design an individualized teaching program which addresses the areas of pronunciation that are most affected by the influence of the student's first language.

The research conducted by Dr. Compton, first presented to the American-Speech-Language & Hearing Association in 1980, indicates a consistent level of improvement or change in pronunciation across demographic variables such as age, sex, number of years living in the United States, education level and first language.  Individuals who complete a PESL training program with a certified instructor are likely to demonstrate an increase in pronunciation accuracy of 50 to 70% within 90 days (13 weeks/3 months).

Participants use a set of practice materials designed exclusively for the PESL method.  The practice materials enable the client to practice what is introduced and corrected in each face-to-face session with the instructor.  The materials are available in audio CD format, PC and Mac software formats, and an interactive web-based format that works in most web browsers.  With the exception of the audio CD format, clients use their practice materials to record their own voice and compare their pronunciation attempts to modeled recordings.

Each session introduces the client to 1 to 3 new phoneme pronunciation targets.  Using primarily auditory teaching methods, the client learns to quickly master the individual  phoneme in words and sentences.  Intonation is learned through the repetition of carefully and deliberately modeled utterances.  The student has hundreds of opportunities to imitate, correct and adjust pronunciation and intonation patterns within each session.

Long-term research conducted by Dr. Compton indicated a consistent level of pronunciation performance evident 5 to 7 years after the training course was completed.  In other words, individuals asked to participate in the study returned to Dr. Compton's office 5 to 7 years after completing their individualized training results for a second post-training assessment.  The results of their second post-training assessments were consistent with the first in every instance, varying by only a couple of percentage points.