Efficient and effective verbal communication is key to a successful business. Whether your employees are communicating with each other or with business clients, it is essential that they can be easily understood.
A 2010 study done by The University of Chicago found that foreign accents reduce the credibility of non-native speakers. Because these speakers are more difficult to understand, listeners perceive them as less truthful and this perception increases with the severity of the accent. Read more about the study here.
Employees who speak English as a second language may be at a disadvantage when it comes to effective oral communication. Speaking English through the rules and learned sounds of their native language, gives these speakers their accent. In addition, accented speakers often speak softly and hurriedly, are less likely to share ideas, and have difficulty talking on the phone.
Modifying or reducing an accent is possible by training the speaker to hear and produce the correct sounds, stress, intonation and rhythm of English. It requires daily work to help this new speech become a habit.
Accented speakers may be sensitive about their speech, however they welcome the support when help is offered. Employers often offer the service on a voluntary basis or as part of continuing education package, emphasizing that the goal is to help them be easily understood while maintaining their cultural heritage.