This is perhaps the number one question I get from people interested in offering accent modification as a training program. It speaks to the topic’s sensitivity. Their intentions are great: to empower an organization and its personnel. Their delivery can be equally positive. Don’t be afraid to talk about this issue. It can be a win-win for everyone.
The most important aspect of this discussion is to remember to take the onus off the prospective accent reduction learner. Talk about the process of communication, not about the employee’s performance. The key is to offer your business professional accent training as an opportunity to excel at his/her job.
The following is a short ‘role play’ you can use if you’re a supervisor, director, or someone who believes their employees could benefit from pronunciation training for business professionals.
“With our global economy/workforce, language barriers have become a challenge. Many Americans are not proficient in understanding unfamiliar accents. This creates miscommunications or impedes free-flowing communication. I’d like to provide an opportunity for you to improve your English pronunciation. This program will help other people (team members, customers, etc.) better understand your professional expertise. My job as a (supervisor, director, etc.) is to provide tools for advancement, both for you and the organization. As a supervisor, my goal is to maximize your professional expertise and ensure that the whole organization is working at its greatest capability. In the process, I believe this tool will help you advance and grow in your career. We value your contributions and would like to see you excel as much as possible.”
Things to consider as the discussion proceeds:
- An accent is a speech pattern. Everyone has an accent. The objective is to minimize language barriers while maintaining our unique cultural identities.
- Pronunciation is a core subject area of language fluency. This is true for every language.
- An accent reduction program teaches the sounds and speech patterns in English that do not occur in other languages.
You may also want to consider a program like the Accent Reduction Institute’s Building Bridges. This teaches native English speakers how to ‘tune their ear’ to unfamiliar accents. It also provides general speaking strategies to minimize communication barriers in environments where English is the common language. Organizations that address both sides of the communication street demonstrate there’s a place for everyone to create clear and effective communication.
Do you want to learn more about business professional accent training? Request a seminar for the employees in your organization.