'The King's Speech' credited for rebirth of traditional elocution classes

Colin Firth's 'The King's Speech' has been cited as one of the main reasons for resurgence in traditional elocution lessons, a new study has revealed

According to the research, traditional elocution lessons are making a comeback as jobseekers attempt to "soften" their regional accents and boost public speaking skills to get ahead in the workplace.

Figures indicate that the number of people seeking voice coaching has more than doubled in a year in response to the depressed jobs market.

Some tutors put the rise down to the popularity of 'The King's Speech', saying it prompted a renewed focus on the personal benefits of speaking clearly and effectively.

Others said they had been inundated with calls from parents who fear their children are struggling to articulate themselves after spending too much time on the Internet.

The research said that the desire to lose or soften regional accents was cited as the biggest reason for elocution lessons, with the number of enquiries from Birmingham outstripping other areas.

Susan Nataly Coombes, a concert soprano who teaches elocution and public speaking in central London, said demand was also high among City bankers and other businessmen who need to speak clearly for meetings, presentations and video conferences.

"I personally feel that people's speech is becoming very slipshod, due to texting and spending huge numbers of hours on the internet. People don't have the patience to pronounce a word properly any more," the Telegraph quoted Coombes as saying.

"I think people should think carefully about how they present themselves verbally, whether they are appearing in public, making a presentation or at an interview," she said.

The study said most people were not seeking a "cut-glass accent or to learn to speak like the Queen" but did want to develop a "clearer, softer or more authoritarian voice".

However, Maggie Hall, a speech and drama teacher from Brighton, said the popularity of 'The King's Speech', the British movie that was crowned best film at the Oscars last year, had a significant effect.

"Recently I have noticed a marked increase in requests for elocution.

"Personally, I blame The King's Speech.

"I think perhaps it has made people think that if such a severe speech problem as that could be overcome then perhaps they should have a go at improving their own speech.

"Mind you, the speech impediment that the King had I wouldn't deal with. I would refer someone like that to a proper speech and language therapist," she said.

A study by The Tutor Pages, a private tuition website, showed that elocution lessons were among the most popular search terms in 2011. Some 613 enquiries were made last year, it was revealed, up by 119 percent in 12 months.

It accounted for 3.08 percent of total enquiries to the website last year, compared with 2.3 percent 12 months earlier.

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