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4 reasons for reducing your accent

What draws us, non-native speakers, to accent reduction / modification? We may think the answer to this is pretty simple but as with most things in life, everybody has their own reasons for why they want to reduce their accent.

1. Blending In

This one tends to support the other goals. It's probably the most common reason to want to reduce your accent. Maybe you're just tired of constantly going through the motions of the question: "oh, where are you from?" whenever you meet somebody new. While this is a wrong thing to do, many people may even joke about your accent or hold subconscious bias against people with foreign accents. You may be a nuclear physicist with a Nobel prize but some Americans, unconsciously, may assume you're not as intelligent or educated as them if they feel you're struggling with English and the pronunciation. This also leads us to reason #2.

2. Career Advancement (internal advancement)

I've worked with lots of clients that don't necessarily want to sound like Americans because they live in the US and want to blend in. However, they've encountered unconscious (or perhaps even conscious) bias at work against them based on how they speak. Some of my students have been overlooked for promotions because where they are located, management somehow values a certain image more than the actual value of the employee. As a result, they may hire the American from overseas over you even though they may lack your experience and skill.

3. Career Advancement (client facing)

I've listed this one separately because sometimes a company may actually not care much about your accent for internal purposes, however, if you work in a client facing role, you may lack the confidence and clarity to effectively convert prospects. We again return to the term I used "unconscious bias" which can lead to customers not taking you as seriously as they may an American counterpart. This is clearly unfair since you may be presenting the exact same information and you may even have a deeper understanding of the clients' needs and wants but unconsciously they may feel more at ease with somebody that's easy to communicate with. If somebody has (even just a bit of) a hard time fully understanding what you're saying, this will lead to fatigue over time, especially since attention spans nowadays are already short to begin with. As a result, an accent is another road block in your way to gaining the trust and respect of your customer.

Both of the reasons for career advancement that I listed applied to me. I was an actor in New York City with a noticeable accent wanting to audition for American parts. In order to successfully work with both representation (agents and managers) as well as casting directors to secure the roles I wanted to play, the American accent was an absolute requirement. I didn't want to be stuck in the "guy with a vague European accent" parts or, specifically for German accents, "the World War 2 Nazi soldier".

4. Curiosity and love of language

At the same time, a lot of my students share this fourth reason. They are curious and like language. For example, I have a student that also works with language tutors for Japanese and Italian while working with me on accent reduction for American. I, myself, am another good example for this. I loved learning languages in school and realized I had a real affinity for them and always enjoyed the English language. It was this curiosity that helped make the accent reduction process fun for me.

Closing Thoughts

Just to be clear, it doesn't matter what your reasoning is, as long as you feel like it makes sense for you. You may feel like only one of these or maybe all of these apply to you.

Another thing I want to mention is that if the career reasons make you feel uncomfortable, that's okay. In this modern world, you don't need to sound 100% American to find success. I don't want you to feel like your success hinges on that. However, I do think reducing your accent is very helpful and powerful for the reasons that I mentioned above. Even if you just view it as a tool for clarity when speaking.

The thing that can make it tough to communicate with Americans (or Brits/Australians/Canadians) when speaking with an accent is not the fact that you're from a different country but that you may be wildly mispronouncing a lot of words or you may be consistently using the wrong sounds in certain areas. If they're not used to speaking to people with accents, that can make it hard for Americans to understand you. Accent Reduction is not just about blending. It actually also helps you a lot with diction which is a huge part of being easily understood.

Any Questions? Please don't hesitate to reach out. Want to get started with reducing your accent? Go ahead and book a session!


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