Suzanne Cerreta

Part Time Faculty, Theatre


Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 4727
Email: suzanne.cerreta@concordia.ca
Website(s): Accent Guru

Bio

Suzanne has been teaching accents, dialects, and voice and speech for over 15 years, both here in Montreal and in her home town of NYC. She has a BFA in acting from Carnegie Mellon University where she received the Thomas Auclair Memorial Scholarship Award and the Judith Light West Coast Drama Alumni Award for excellence in acting. She has worked in NYC in theatre, TV, and film, including off-Broadway plays The Maiden's Prayer, The Tempest, Spike Heels, and films such as, Puccini For Beginners, A Most Violent Year, and of course, every NY actor's calling card, Law & Order. Suzanne is most proud of her voice over work in dozens of national US commercials for TV and radio, video games and audiobooks. 

Voice work and accents have always been a major passion, and she completed her MA at Concordia in 2016 in Applied Linguistics, where she combined her years of experience as an actor and coach of accents and dialects with the applied science and research of linguistics. She drew from the work of Dudley Knight and developed a sensory based speech curriculum, testing it out on Francophone actors in Montreal for her thesis research. Her research article, Engaging the Senses, is published in the Journal of Second Language Pronunciation. Some of her accent and dialect clients include Mylene Mackay, Noemie O'Farrell, Zachary Quinto, Lynn Collins, Tommar Wilson (Hamilton), Sophie Sumner (America's Next Top Model), and many others.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


Research activities

A sensory-based approach to L2 pronunciation instruction for actors

This case study examined the benefits of a sensory-based approach for teaching second language pronunciation to actors, addressing the unique learning goal of nativelike speech for nonnative professional actors. Two French Canadian actors (Marianne and Sebastian) were followed over 10 weeks of pronunciation instruction based on Knight’s (2012) theatrical voice methods and Gibson’s (1969) principles of sensory learning. Audio samples from scripted performances before and after instruction were rated for global and linguistic measures by 10 linguistically trained listeners and for performance measures by 10 advanced acting students. Listener ratings showed a significant improvement in accentedness for Marianne and greater comprehensibility for both actors, while qualitative data revealed actors’ preferences for different types of instruction. Results suggest that sensory learning appears beneficial for some learners and that pronunciation instruction could be supplemented with sensory-based activities.


Publications

Teaching Pronunciation to Second Language English-Speaking Actors

 

Unlike other second language learners of English, actors face pressure from North American directors, writers, and producers to sound like a native speaker in performance (Schiffman, 2004). In fact, many actors have reported losing job opportunities, because their English pronunciation did not sound nativelike (Fine,1999). Unfortunately, until Hollywood reflects the diversity of North American speech, many actors will depend on comprehensive pronunciation instruction to help them sound like native speakers of English, in the hopes of increasing their job opportunities. While the goal of achieving nativelike speech is unrealistic for most adult second language speakers (Scovel, 2000), actors work in a unique context where they speak words that are memorized and studied, not spontaneous, possibly making it easier for them to speak with more target-like pronunciation (Ding, 2007).

Engaging the senses: A sensory-based approach to L2 pronunciation instruction for actors

ABSTRACT:

This case study examined the benefits of a sensory-based approach for teaching second language pronunciation to actors, addressing the unique learning goal of nativelike speech for nonnative professional actors. Two French Canadian actors (Marianne and Sebastian) were followed over 10 weeks of pronunciation instruction based on Knight’s (2012) theatrical voice methods and Gibson’s (1969) principles of sensory learning. Audio samples from scripted performances before and after instruction were rated for global and linguistic measures by 10 linguistically trained listeners and for performance measures by 10 advanced acting students. Listener ratings showed a significant improvement in accentedness for Marianne and greater comprehensibility for both actors, while qualitative data revealed actors’ preferences for different types of instruction. Results suggest that sensory learning appears beneficial for some learners and that pronunciation instruction could be supplemented with sensory-based activities.

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