Why you might need an accent reduction course
Answers: Your concerns are accurate. As tolerant as people are in the US, a heavy accent impedes a smooth flow of communications and will stand in your way of moving up the corporate ladder.
The best thing is that you’re already aware of the problem and want to take action including an accent reduction course for American English pronunciation. The most important thing is that you think about the way you speak every day and take a half hour or so daily to practice sounds you want to improve.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Have someone assess your business vocabulary and draw up a list of job specific words you need to master that you use every day with your colleagues and in presentations. If possible, have that person speak the words into an audio recorder for you; use this recording as daily practice while driving to and from the office. Another possibility is to go online and listen to the words on sites, which have a recording of words (dictionary.com, for example).
2. Watch TV and listen to Public Broadcast Radio [PBR]. The more you surround yourself with English and the more actively you listen to the way words are spoken, the faster you will improve. Many of my clients dismiss TV as inconsequential, but it is an amazing teaching machine if you use it as such. Countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden etc. all have fabulous English speakers. Why? Because all of their TV shows and movies are in English with subtitles.
Do you know why? They don’t dub US TV shows or their US movies so that the Danes, Swedes and Dutch develop an ear for English early on.
3. Get an audio book from the library or from audible.com; first follow the text along with the speakers reading it, and then record your own reading of that passage. Compare the differences between you and the speaker. Make a list of the words you say differently and practice them. Read your text aloud 2x a day and watch yourself improve.
4. If you are going to give a presentation, don’t do what many of my clients do – prepare the presentation on the plane the night before. You need to run through your presentation at least 5x and not only to know your content, but to really control your grasp of all of your business vocabulary. It would be too bad, if the audience walked away scratching their heads because they didn’t understand you.
The most important thing is: do something! Take action, start by listening to yourself, ask friends around you to help get you started. It’s embarrassing for some international professionals to do this, but isn’t it more embarrassing if you find out people around you don’t know what you are saying?