How Does Your Accent Impact You?

As 2010 draws to a close, it is a time to assess where we are in our lives and careers and how we want to proceed in the future.  Have we met our personal and professional goals? What will our goals be for the year ahead?
If you are a non-native speaker of English who is difficult for others to understand, have you ever considered enrolling in an accent modification program? How often are you asked to repeat what you have said? Do you frequently sense that your listeners do not understand your statements and questions? How do you feel when you are not understood?

When do you have the most difficulty getting your ideas across? How well do waiters and store clerks understand you? Is it particularly difficult for you to convey your messages over the phone and in the presence of noise? Do you avoid some speaking situations because of your accent? Are there some words that you hesitate to use because you know that when you pronounce them they will sound like a word that you did not intend to say. That word may not be appropriate to use in that specific setting.

Although you know how to speak, read, and write in English, do you have significant difficulty selecting the appropriate words to use? Is it still a challenge for you to decide how to pronounce a number of words in English? Do you frequently have difficulty determining which syllable to emphasize in words with more than one syllable? Are the rules of English grammar still baffling? Is deciding how to sequence words in sentences sometimes unclear to you? Do clichés and expressions continue to be challenging for you to use and understand? Do you sometimes have difficulty understanding native speakers of English?

Do you feel that modifying your accent could have a positive impact on your career? Is it possible that you missed a job opportunity because your speech is difficult to understand?

If you work in the health care field, could the quality of the care that you deliver to your patients improve if you modify your accent? Could participation in an accent modification program reduce the chances that errors in patient care could occur? Are you a physician whose specialty board will require an assessment of your communication skills to renew your certification? If so, could your accent interfere with your success?

If you are in a sales position, is it possible that you have lost sales because you have not been understood? Could enrolling in an accent modification program increase the effectiveness of your sales presentations?
If you are in a teaching field, should you consider modifying your accent so that the learning experience for your students is a more positive one?  Could this also increase the likelihood that you could advance in your profession?                                                                                                                              
If you work in a technical field such as engineering, could a strong accent cause you to be poorly understood by other engineers?  Could communication problems result in errors in designs or issues that could lead to safety problems?

The English language, its sounds and rhythm can be particularly difficult to master for a non-native speaker.  Speech-language pathologists can assist those who are dedicated to modifying their accents increase the effectiveness of their communication.