A senior drilling engineer is ready to give a presentation to a large group of fellow employees, and a few higher-ups. The engineer is from another country, and although he has a heavy accent, he’s quite fluent in English. Today, he’s decided to begin his presentation with a friendly greeting that he’s heard from some Americans.
“Howdy, f___ks!” he shouts with a big smile.
He hears gasps from his audience, and muffled laughter. He sees some of his co-workers exchange embarrassed glances. Later, a colleague explains the reaction.
This embarrassing situation happened to a student of mine, but the mispronunciation of the word, folks, and, more often, focus, has created embarrassment for quite a few non-native speakers.
Of course, not every simple mispronunciation will cause embarrassment. Most mispronunciations are understood through context and are not vulgar. However, mispronounced words – along with a lack of correct rhythm, intonation, and stress in English – can be quite distracting to the listener and can interrupt the natural flow of comprehension.
The solution? Take a good accent reduction class. It’s worth the time and effort to come as close as you can to a native speaker’s speech.
Who is a typical Accent Reduction student?Most Accent Reduction students are highly-experienced professionals who have studied English before and are usually quite fluent. However, they often experience difficulty in being understood at the workplace, and in social situations.
Some of the reasons that students decide to take Accent Reduction classes include the following:
- “My boss told me that I that I’m hard to understand in meetings.”
- “I’ve been denied the opportunity to give presentations to large meetings because of my accent.”
- “Sometimes, I feel that people don’t take me seriously because of my accent.”
- “I’m tired of the constant question, ‘What?’ when I’m speaking to someone.”
- “I often feel uncomfortable in social situations because of my accent, so I don’t participate very much.
What do students learn in an Accent Reduction class?
The overall goal of accent reduction is to bring the student as close as possible to native English speech. In an AR class, students will see clear demonstrations on how to correctly pronounce American English sounds. A variety of interesting practice activities will reinforce the instruction. The Accent Reduction teacher will also provide plenty of feedback to help each student sound closer to a native English speaker.
Ear training is also part of Accent Reduction classes. Students must be able to hear English sounds correctly as they learn to produce the sounds correctly. Special attention is paid to consonant and vowel sounds that may not exist in a student’s native language.
Special features of spoken English which help the student speak faster and more naturally are another important part of an AR class. Some of these features are:
- • Reduction
- • Linking
- • Shwa, the most common vowel sound in English
- • Deleted H with certain words
- • Content Words vs. Function Words
- • Rhythm, Intonation, and Stress
What are the career benefits of accent reduction?
In many cases, a heavy accent can hinder interaction at the workplace and in work-related social situations. A person with a heavy accent might feel self-conscious and, therefore, be reluctant to participate fully in meetings and other situations where good oral communication skills are needed.
Accent reduction which results in clear speaking can greatly improve interactions with bosses or colleagues and can lead to more opportunities for advancement at work.
Accent reduction career benefits include the following:
- • Better impression at job interviews
- • Increased chances of promotion at work
- • Effective participation in meetings
- • More dynamic presentations
- • Better performance evaluations
- • More self-confidence at company social events
Sign up for a CCLS Accent Reduction class now! CCLS offers four levels of AR classes with a variety of options. Students can sign up for one-on-one private classes. These VIP classes are tailored to the student’s specific needs. Small group classes of no more than three to four students are available as well. There are also classes designed for two people if two colleagues or friends wish to study together.
Go to Upcoming Courses for AR class schedules, or call the CCLS office at 832-562-0133 for more information.