Does Your Accent Hold You Back?
Do people often ask you to repeat yourself? Is it difficult to talk on the phone? Are you nervous that your accent holds you back at work? Everyone has an accent, even native speakers. But a strong accent that prevents you from being understood can keep from moving up to the next level, regardless of potential.
The STEM fields in particular have a large percentage of foreign-born employees, many of whom have difficulty with English pronunciation. According to Forbes:
“One out of every five engineering graduates from American universities are foreign born. At the master’s degree level, the ratio is closer to one out of every two. And 56 percent of doctoral grads in engineering were from abroad in 2011.”
In addition to daily communications, STEM employees must often make presentations, whether to teams, at conferences, to customers, or to marketing departments. They face communication obstacles that native speakers don’t. And although most companies offer communication skills training for their employees, programs often don’t address the unique set of challenges non-native speakers have.
When employees have clear and understandable speech, everybody benefits.
Benefits to the learner:
- Greater opportunity for communication roles
- Greater opportunity for career advancement
- Reduced errors and miscommunications
- Greater self-confidence and ease in speaking situations
- Increased communication outside of work
Benefits to the organization:
- Cultivates talent
- Improves productivity and customer service
- Recognizes diversity by meeting the needs of non-native speakers
After completing accent reduction coaching, STEM employees who reduced their accents reported greater fluency in general conversation and a marked improvement in pronunciation of technical vocabulary specific to their areas. They also reported greater comfort and willingness to participate in meetings, phone conversations and socialize in English.