In communicating, what greatly matters is to be clearly understood despite accents or minor mistakes.
Do you have a second or possibly even third language? If it is, then you might have had trouble speaking in public or sometimes a bit intimidated to communicate with native speakers at work, all because of your native accent. That’s why the idea of removing it completely may sound good to you. But that shouldn’t be the case at all!
Reducing or Eliminating?
Are you frequently asked to repeat yourself? Do people often nod blankly in agreement when you talk? If you find yourself in one or even both of these situations, you should evaluate the way you speak and work on what you need to improve.
In 2010, researchers from the University of Chicago showed that non-native speakers with a heavy accent are harder to understand and unfortunately, this causes the speaker to be perceived as less credible. With this, you can see that it’s not because you have an accent, it’s because the thickness of it is making it difficult for others to understand what you’re saying. When you’re accent is getting in the way of how you communicate, that’s when it becomes a problem.
Not to worry though because it’s still absolutely possible to speak in a way people understand you (and yes, despite your accent!). The solution? Accent reduction rather than elimination. Gaining to be understood is so much better than trying to avoid speaking in a way you normally would on a daily basis. In fact, that’ll only make it harder for you to share your ideas.
Is it even possible to ‘reduce’ my accent?
The answer is yes! If accents can be acquired, so can they be reduced even if you’re already an adult. All it takes is constant practice and application through accent reduction sessions!
Accent reduction is the art of teaching people how to speak without a strong accent. Why is this so important? First of all, it allows the person to be understood and avoid miscommunication. A heavy accent can cause people to misinterpret instructions which can have far-reaching and devastating effects. Secondly, reducing one’s accent can also lead a person to become well-spoken; enhancing the person’s opportunities. If they have strong communication skills, a person can advance to management and other career choices.
Lastly and most importantly, with companies expanding globally, teams are becoming more diverse. This makes working with people from other parts of the world no surprise, and a workplace of different accents arise. With meetings conducted both in-person and offline, one should be able to communicate with colleagues and clients clearly, avoiding any possibility of miscommunication. In that way, you both understand each other as you speak.
Speaking Clearly, Not Perfectly
While it’s a good thing to hit the right notes when speaking a language aside from your own, that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate your accent in doing so. A lot of people who speak a second language still retain their native accent as they speak. And they still get their message across clearly. Besides, accents are more than just a way of speaking, they’re a connection to your culture and heritage. So, it’s actually something you should be proud of!
In reality, we all speak differently based on where we come from. And the thing is, with or without an accent, what really matters is to be able to speak in an effective manner, to be able to to get your message across clearly. That should be your ultimate language learning goal. As long as you’re easily and clearly understood, the minor mistakes and even your accent don’t matter. Strive for communication, not perfection.
The best time to start is now.
Are you planning on being a better communicator anytime soon? Well, now is the time to start—not just in learning a language, but in reducing your accent! The best way is to practice with a language coach who’ll teach you to enunciate your words and pronounce sounds in a way that is easily understood, and guide you every step of the way.
Equipping oneself with language skills are definitely invaluable in the growing business world. But gearing yourself to be understood as you hold a presentation, negotiate a deal, and meet with your peers, is even more vital. In communicating, it’s what matters most!