Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Susan Schuld


Language is a personal process, a product of not only our development, but of one’s culture. Yet in the United States, an actor must be able to speak without a detectable dialect to be competitive in the entertainment world. How can voice teachers in a multi-cultural society, train students with more attention to the individuality of the students we educate? In this thesis, I present the information I have found important in my development as a voice teacher that has influenced my approach to training actors to use the Neutral American dialect. I begin by outlining human language acquisition and the behavior of code-switching to establish an understanding of how communication is developed. Next, the journey of voice and dialect training in the United States is traced from the 19th century to the present so that we may understand who shaped our speech standards and the motivations behind their efforts. Lastly, I outline how I incorporated my knowledge of language acquisition and code-switching into the sophomore Voice and Speech For the Actor class I taught at VCU in the Spring of 2013 which introduced students to the International Phonetic Alphabet and the Neutral American Dialect. I hope this information inspires other 21st century educators to embrace an inclusive approach to dialect training in a multi-cultural classroom.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2013


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