THINKING OF ACCENT REDUCTION FOR YOUR CAREER?
Accents In Singapore
Living in Singapore affords us up to four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. With Chinese and English comprising two of the world’s most spoken dialects 1 (Spanish being the third) we are arguably in an enviable position for speaking and understanding other languages.
The 21st century has seen a rise in Singapore’s labor population, with an increase of 76% from 616,000 in 2000 to 1.09M in 2010 2. Whilst we celebrate this influx of workers enriching our culture and contributing to our economy, it can also pose challenges for employers.
The Challenges For Employers
One of these challenges is the assimilation of accents into the workplace. Whilst an employee may be perfectly capable of carrying out their responsibilities to a high standard, having a strong accent can hinder internal communication between staff and external communication with clients or customers.
ADVANTAGES OF USING AN SLP FOR ACCENT REDUCTION
Accent reduction can be an excellent opportunity for employees to enhance their communication skills.
As long as employers and HR departments handle the issue with sensitivity and professionalism, the benefits of utilizing the services of a speech pathologist (SLP) are numerous.
Speech pathologists are communication specialists who help individuals improve their communication skills. A skilled SLP will not treat the individual for a “speech problem”, nor will they make them feel like there is anything “wrong” with them. We understand that a dominant language will always have subtle influences on second or third languages acquired. The aim is to improve speech intelligibility to the point where an individual’s message is conveyed effectively.
Christian, a Hong Konger, fluent in Cantonese, came to me eighteen months ago. Chris worked as a senior manager in a multinational company. He had a strong command of written English, but there were some mispronunciations (e.g. “see” as “shee”) in his spoken English. This resulted in occasional miscommunications between Christian and his bosses.
In all other aspects, Chris was a diligent worker, well educated, with an eye for detail. His employer was happy with his work! However, his spoken English, particularly when speaking to CEOs and international customers was affecting his progression at the company. After taking our complimentary online test screener, Christian proposed attending coaching sessions to help modify his accent. His boss had plans to groom him in the company and supported his decision.
Christian worked on speech sound substitutions (e.g. “th”, “f”, plosives, consonant clusters), as well as pitch and intonation to neutralize the “sing-song” quality of his sentences. Audio and video taping helped tremendously with developing self-monitoring skills. Christian was booked in for fifteen sessions, but both he and his employer saw significant improvement after ten sessions of accent reduction. We were delighted to hear that this was reflected in Christian’s performance appraisal and that opportunities for additional training and promotion were now being made available to him.
We feel fortunate to have been able to help Christian, his employer and many others in similar situations. Witnessing such progress is always inspiring and motivational.
- Most Widely Spoken Languages In The World [Article]. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.infoplease.com/arts-entertainment/writing-and-language/most-widely-spoken-languages-world
- Brenda Yeoh and Weiqiang Lin. (2012, April 3). Rapid Growth in Singapore’s Immigrant Population Brings Policy Challenges. Retrieved from http://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/rapid-growth-singapores-immigrant-population-brings-policy-challenges
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