Published: Sep 15, 2010 4:01 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 15, 2010 1:02 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A unique Southwest Florida class is helping non-English speakers sound more American.

The "Accent Reduction" course at Edison college aims to polish spoken English, while at the same time helping people realize their potential.

It's an idea that's even winning the support of some local Hispanic leaders.

Instructor Carol Rommel has been teaching communication for years.  Her students come from a variety of backgrounds: speaking Spanish, Portuguese,  even hearing-impaired, but all with the same goal in mind.

"Its to make their speech easy to understand, so they can reach out to people and people will interact with them more easily," Rommel said.

"That situation happened to me several times when they don't understand me and they just smile," said Veneuelan native Luis Yeguez.  He says improved English will help in his job.

"I have to talk to people, I have to be in meetings, I have to address big audiences all the time," Yeguez said.

The class has won the support of the Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

"That way it helps them with their self-esteem, but also it helps them obtain work, get jobs, and also advance professionally," said SWFL Hispanic Chamber president Veronica Culbertson.

While improved communication is the goal, Rommel says the class isn't meant to take away any speaker's rich history.

"They have a cultural heritage that will remain," Rommel said. "You will always hear it, a trace of it, in their American accent, but I want it to remain there."

The five-week course is offered through the continuing education department at Edison College.