Is your accent holding you back?
There have always been judgements and prejudices about accents. Whether you like it or not, accent is associated with social-economic class, ethnic groups and backgrounds. It is our identity. It matters more than the way we dress and what car we drive. How we speak matters! It represents more than just words and sound. Most people have experienced hidden biases due to their accent, including native English speakers. Unconscious bias exists at school, at work, it’s everywhere. Accent bias remains challenging, it takes place in every country among every race, not only in English-speaking countries.
What is accentism and foreign-accent discrimination?
Subconsciously we have all judged and have been judged, the simplest way to describe accentism is “Accent Discrimination”. This term is specifically used to describe the judgement of a native-speaker’s accent and tie them to a specific class, region and background. Foreign-accent discrimination is similar to accentism, except that it is targeted at non-native English speakers.
First impression is important, and naturally humans would profile a speaker within the first 30 seconds after meeting. Quite often they link accents to intelligence, followed by the choice of words, then immediately make a quick judgement. Research suggests that non-native speakers tend to feel more excluded and devalued at work and at school. Furthermore, sometimes judgement can lead to immaturity without realising it, such as laughing at someone’s accent, regardless if it is obvious or not. If the speaker is aware that they are being laughed at, they will always be sensitive about their accent and become less confident when speaking English. A simple smile can brighten up your day, but it can also ruin it.
Be proactive and play the game
Speech Etiquette’s clients have a different approach to accentism and foreign-accent discrimination, our clients have worked hard to get to where they are and instead of feeling victimised, they see improving their English and learning to speak with clear diction as a personal investment like they would their house, cars and luxury lifestyle. Their mindset matters! This is why they are successful. Winners seek growth and look for solutions. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
For example, most stay-at-home mums would usually go for high tea while their kids are having music lessons, but now they are allocating the same time to improve their English and learning to speak with clear diction. In comparison to music lessons, learning to speak is much cheaper. While music lessons can continue for many years to achieve higher grades (up to Grade 8), the good news about learning to speak is that it requires much less time and investment. Some even say ‘it’s cheaper than botox’. Bravo!
Nothing is impossible.
Read that again... "I'm...possible! "
– SPEECH ETIQUETTE
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