FAQs for Employers

  1. As a Canadian, I understand Australian or British accents better than Chinese or Russian. Why?
  2. How long does it take to correct accent and speaking problems?
  3. How much practice is required to really change one's accent?
  4. What is our ROI for providing accent training to our foreign sourced employees?
  5. Why should our company use Clear Communications?
  6. Our foreign educated people have good technical and writing skills. Isn’t that enough?
  7. Why don’t accents go away?
  8. Why do accents interfere with communication?
  9. We have a person who tends to say ‘shit’ instead of ‘sheet’ of paper. Can you fix this?
  10. Which language group has the most difficulty learning English and making English sounds?
  11. Does a person need to eliminate all traces of an accent to be effective in English?
  12. How old is too old to change an accent?
  1. As a Canadian, I understand Australian or British accents better than Chinese or Russian. Why?

    All English-type accents have many similarities including words, grammar, rhythms and intonations. None of these similarities are available to Chinese and other foreign speakers of English. The sounds, words, rhythms, intonations, connecting sounds, and mouth movements are different in foreign languages than in any genre of English. All foreign speakers of English greatly benefit from accent clarity training and you, the listener, will too.

  2. How long does it take to correct accent and speaking problems?

    For most educated and experienced foreign speakers of English, it takes 6 to 12 months of weekly, one hour sessions and daily practice to make dramatic improvements. Personal learning styles, the amount of English spoken daily and the amount of practice determine the speed of learning. You can start to benefit from the training in as little as three months!

  3. How much practice is required to really change one's accent?

    It is recommended that a person practice 15-30 minutes per day by speaking lessons out loud, improving telephone habits or consciously using accurate speech. A little daily repetition of correct sounds and rhythms adds up to amazing improvements.

  4. What is our ROI for providing accent training to our foreign sourced employees?

    Research shows that speaking with an accent slows down communications, masks educational status, increases editing and repetitions within communications, and builds walls between the speaker and co-workers, team members and clients. Providing your foreign sourced employees with English accent and speech skills training will give your organization and your clients greater access to their technical knowledge and problem solving skills. When foreign educated employees communicate at par with their Canadian born peers, your teams work more cohesively and you have more people who are ‘equally’ effective in doing the work. Improved communication skills feed your bottom line without hiring even one more employee.

  5. Why should our company use Clear Communications?

    Clear Communications has developed and tested a new proprietary training system that accelerates learning the correct pronunciation and local accents. These methods quickly change ‘kind of okay’ accented English to clear and nearly-Canadian. Our techniques have been reported by clients to increase work flow by 10 to 30%!

  6. Our foreign educated people have good technical and writing skills. Isn’t that enough?

    Since workplace knowledge must often be delivered verbally, how a person speaks really counts. When people find it difficult to understand a team member or notice that a colleague doesn’t seem to understand ‘what is going on,’ this lack of trust reduces team effectiveness. People who need to know may be left ‘out of the loop’ and skipped over when training opportunities or promotions come along. Your succession planning costs can escalate when qualified people are not considered for promotions because their speaking skills are weak.

  7. Why don’t accents go away?

    Accents persist because the sounds people copied from their families about ‘how to speak’ are installed, like a computer program, in their heads and used every time they speak. Until the sound file is consciously changed to include new ‘how to speak’ information, people who learn a new language will continue to speak new words with the old, and often incorrect, sounds.

  8. Why do accents interfere with communication?

    Accents can be an interesting and part of a speaker’s personality. However, you could ‘see’ an accent, it might look like this.

    cAN yOU reAD tHIS eaSILY?

    Just as spelling mistakes are uncomfortable and time consuming to read, sound mistakes are distracting, difficult and time consuming to understand. This example shows only ONE small distortion of ‘misusing’ capital and lower case letters, yet this one error is confusing and stressful. An accent with one sound error would be no more of a problem than an English speaking child saying 'dat' for 'that'. Foreign accents come with multiple errors which multiply listening difficulties, increase speaker stress slow down, even cripple, the ability of the speaker to present him or herself effectively, and be taken seriously. Accent training focuses on giving people the choice to use their birth language sounds (foreign accent) or the local Canadian sounds (local accent), depending on the people they are speaking with.

  9. We have a person who tends to say ‘shit’ instead of ‘sheet’ of paper. Can you fix this?

    Yes, and quickly! This a common, as well as an inconvenient and embarrassing, mistake. Mistakes like this can be easily corrected with a couple of lessons and a bit of practice. The learner must hear and recognize the difference between the correct and incorrect sounds and slow down ‘ee’. There is a big payoff for the speaker in saying words like ‘sheet, beach, and piece’ correctly.

  10. Which language group has the most difficulty learning English and making English sounds?

    Initially, Europeans who speak languages with some words and sounds similar to English will seem to learn more quickly. Over time, those who study and practice the most produce the best results. Learning English is based on learning grammar, and grammar instruction is about the same everywhere. Written texts standardize the process of reading English. Speaking skills instruction, on the other hand, is as varied as the teachers. Speech training materials are beginning to improve but often lean toward ‘listen and repeat’ activities without much correction in making sounds. Teachers may know how to speak English, but have very little or no training in how to make sounds and how to teach corrections. When students are taught the correct principles of English speech, their clarity and accuracy are significantly better than other students'.   

  11. Does a person need to eliminate all traces of an accent to be effective in English?

    Not usually. A person can make a few mild sound errors and be very clear if they also use accurate rhythms and intonations.

  12. How old is too old to change an accent?

    People are never too old to change and learn new things, if they really want to put in the effort. It takes a little bit of time, interest, practice and some expert instruction to change an accent. Interest and willingness to learn tend to be more important than age.