Ideas and Validation November 22, 2020

[UPDATE]: Is your English accent a problem for you?


Hi guys,

so another idea I'm willing to validate.
I'm from Germany and speaking in English is sometimes a good joke for others when the accent hit hard. xD

I don't mind accents at all but I noticed when I was working in the UK that I was self-conscious about my pronunciation.
Also some of my coworkers from Asia or East-Europe had similar issues.

At some point this is silly because everyone has an accent but still there was an issue. Once you want to climb up the latter, communication and self presentation becomes more and more important.
And been caged by ones own accent seems an unnecessary restriction.

Is there a demand for a "service/course" where you could "buy" an accent?
Maybe a 10-week-course by some native speaker.

What do you think?
(I'm willing to team up -> hit me on twitter)

Would it not be great to choose ones own accent?

One other use case I found is because teams are more and more globally distributed, there might be a demand to soften hard accents a bit for better communication.

I checked the high ranking tech officers (with accents) and every single of them worked on their accents. You still can hear it of course but it was reduced to a point where communication goes smoothly.

I adjusted my hypothesis to "There is a need to learn effective communication for a specific domain".
I just released a new landing page.

and a new post

Edit: Typo

Would you like to improve your English accent?
  1. Yes
  2. No
  1. 3

    Nope, if people can understand me I'm fine. Using native idioms is more important.

  2. 3

    Please check Apple events :) If those people(successful/top of the ladder) have no problem with their accents why would we?

    In terms of your idea, no idea :) Maybe some people would look for such a service.

  3. 3

    Born in LT and grew up in UK. I have a horrible accent when trying to speak in LT or PL language. I also get asked by people in the UK if I am from AUS or New Zealand too. Not an issue, the UK is probably one of the most cosmopolitan places on earth so accents are not really that big of an issue. All in the head.

  4. 2

    I think the accent is not a problem for me, but I sometimes feel bad about my grammar and my English level.

    I work every day on it, reading and writing, but I won't lie. I feel like an impostor many times.

  5. 2

    I agree with the others, accents don't really matters in most situation.
    But prononciation do.
    So, if you're fully understandable from people all over the world, you're good.

    I'm french, i spent almost 2 years in the US and I noticed that my accent wasn't an issue in big cities but in rural area it was harder. People there wasn't used to different prononciation and sometimes needed an effort to understand me.

    And, that sucks. So,yeah, I'd take a online course to improve my English!
    (Written & spoken)

    1. 1

      Wow, that's a great insight.

  6. 1

    I don't feel the accent is the issue for me. [English is my second language]
    But like others on the thread, I'm also concerned about pronunciation every now and then. I feel like that could be a greater selling point for me.
    Just to ensure that you are pronouncing "Pitch competition" and that is also what people hear.

    I voted no on your survey, since for me it is not an accent I'm looking for, but rather you selling self- confidence for pronunciation, that is important.

    If you are looking to buy an accent, it sounds a lot more Hollywood. Actors and actresses are maybe a better market to target.

  7. 1

    my accent is part of who I am, allows me to differentiate myself, to tell a quick story, break the ice

  8. 1

    I’m a native English speaker so this doesn’t apply to me, but my opinion is that the strength of the accent matters the further a speaker’s native language is from English, language family wise.

    For example, English spoken with a thick German accent is immediately intelligible, which I put up to them both being Germanic languages. Likewise with the other Germanic languages.

    The Romance languages come next (French, Spanish, Italian etc.) which are fairly intelligible as long as the speaker has a good grasp of grammar and vocabulary.

    English spoken with a thick Indian accent is, for whatever reason, very difficult to understand. It might be the least understandable accent, even though it’s an indo-European language.

    I don’t think accent is a huge issue generally, as long as you can be understood, but sounding more native is definitely better.

  9. 1

    I am interested in - how did you find the data for high ranking tech officers.

    Yes my accent sux too.

  10. 1

    There is definitely an accent "hierarchy" with different biases and stereotypes associated. Once you can communicate without being misunderstood, there are diminishing returns to pursuing an accent as you are unlikely to attain a convincing native accent (running the risk of seeming too "try hard"). Your time is best spent mastering your area of expertise. In this way you will win people's respect (or at least their attention in shorter interactions) and then they pay far less attention to your accent.

    Obviously harder to do with shorter interactions, but you'd be surprised.

  11. 1

    Recently I read that to native English speakers, an UK accent is preferred, while to non-native speakers a Dutch accent is preferred. I'm in luck here, but nevertheless learning to pronounce stuff with a thic British accent is still on my bucket list.

  12. 1

    I worked for a year with a company that did exactly this based in London - I can confirm that it's a massive market (we were on track to do £1 million in revenue with fantastic margins) and we saw demand from C level execs to students - happy to share more info if it would help. Feel free to reach out.

    1. 1

      I send you an email :)

  13. 1

    If someone is also visiting the page to find a few tips, here are my two cents:

    • Hire a native teacher to practice. Ask them to stop you if you pronounce something in a wrong way. I know, sometimes you want to deliver your thoughts, but you are there for learning how to speak.
    • Try different tutors, more different accents means better.
    • And here is the killer that I figured on my own: Don't do "just a lesson", record your audio/video using some tools like OBS Studio. Watch it next day after the lesson. Write down your mistakes. Practice them on your own and kill them next time with your tutor.
  14. 1

    I'm an English language coach. I work with intermediate and advanced English speakers who want to refine their speaking and writing skills. I offer a mixture of live classes and prerecorded courses. There is a market for the product you proposed.

  15. 1

    If I had to choose a team, or people to hire - having a light accent is a plus.

    Means they got where they are despite a disadvantage. They are good at what they do.

  16. 1

    I'm from PL and it's definitely PITA factory for me :D I decided to improve my accent, by starting YouTube channel and Insta in English. It's very challenging :D

    I would 100% for joining some course that improve my accent :)

    BTW, I heard that shadowing movies or TV Presenters helps, but I didn't try :)

  17. 1

    A few years back, I did have a lot of anxiety about my fluency and accent of my English. I was so scared! Then I got so many chance to speak in front of people, events, videos, seminars, I practiced a lot and I got better and better. Now I can speak confidently on podcast or video event!

    I would agree many people have confidence issue, but I'm a little skeptical that a short course can fix accents. Open to ideas for sure!

  18. 1

    Guten Tag!

    yes it's a pain point for me. I would rate 8 from 0 to 10 and pay for it to get rid of my german accent. It takes my self-confidence to speak english.

    greetings from hannover :P

  19. 1

    Definitely. I know of people that want to improve their accent, specially when their colleagues or friends are mostly British/native. I think a course like you said is a good way to do it, and there are some accent coaches out there (like the ones that train movie actors) but I think it would be even more convenient if it was mostly without a human.

    1. 1

      That's my experience as well.

  20. 1

    Checkout Elsa - it's a pretty good app for pronunciation.
    I personally prefer to have an app than to talk to a real person, but I'm sure there are people who prefer the opposite.

      1. 1

        I tried it but the AI is terrible.
        I repeat the same sentence but the outcome is totally different.

    1. 1

      Yea, this app was pretty good. Unfortunately they only have american english, at least when I used it. I thought it was a good way to see areas or sounds to improve on, but it wasn't great at helping you actually improve them. Do you disagree?

      1. 1

        In my experience trying to repeat the same sounds over and over and trying to match the example sound is the best way how to get the correct accent - and for this I think this app is really good.
        However, I'm usually more successful with this approach in languages I'm just starting out. With English in which I'm fluent it's much more harder to get rid of the bad pronunciation habits that I acquired over the years.
        What features to help you improve the pronunciation is missing there in your opinion?

  21. 1

    I think the way you speak actually is you, so trying hard to sound like you're from the UK makes it less believable.

    Accents don't matter - as long as you know the right words you can communicate with people who speak English. And they don't look at accents as much (unless they're very over the top, but that can actually be a good thing to stand out too).

    Just look at the rapper Tommy Cash - in his songs he exaggerates the eastern European accent, while in the interviews he talks more like a native speaker sometimes.

    Dont worry about the accent, worry about what you have to say :)

  22. 1

    I'm from the Philippines where we are taught English in schools since Kinder. I can totally relate to being laughed at with having an accent and most specially wrong grammar but by my fellow Filipinos. Surprisingly in my experience, most foreigners love our accent. I got an opportunity to live in the US for a few years, I didn't attempt to learn their accent (because I felt there was really no need) and did not have any problems whatsoever. I worked with people from other countries (German, French, Mexican, Asian, etc) as well and the Americans loved all their accents. Sure, the accent would help to sound nice but for me, being you is what makes you unique.

  23. 1

    I grew up in Venezuela, attended an American School there (native proficiency, American accent) and then moved to Australia. So my accent now is a hybrid between American, Australia, and the hint of Spanish that sometimes comes through.

    There is definitely at least an unconscious bias towards accents. And not all accents are the same; german probably ranks higher than spanish. Either way, from my personal experience, I think that what people find more impressive and value of a 'proper' english accent is the time and effort it takes to get. I don't know if this could easily be replicated, I suspect that if you find a digital way of enabling it then you are sitting on a billion dollar industry ;)

    1. 1

      Why do you think german ranks higher than spanish?

      English is a super international language. People are used to accents.
      In Germany we are not used to accents at all.
      Even the slightest accent can be picked up by the little ones. So there might be an bias from me thinking that accents have a disadvantage.

      1. 1

        "Why do you think german ranks higher than spanish?" I might be wrong but I would suspect he thinks that because of the dynamics in the US where there are many immigrants from spanish-speaking Latin American countries (I am South American and I lived in the US for a few years).

        1. 1

          There are also many people of German heritage in the US - many of those that came after WWII as farmers. My dad's parents came from the Netherlands at this time to farm in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, above Minnesota. So in my early years a Dutch or German accent was totally normal for me to hear. Check out the maps in the link.

          I've worked with ESL people for over a decade now, where I find it's harder to understand people is when a word doesn't translate correctly to English, or where there is more than one word that it can be translated to that is contextual - in / on / at - is a good example.

          The funny flip-side of being a native English speaker is when you are traveling and try to speak the local language - which the locals are not used to hearing poorly, and with an accent. You think you can do well, and then no one can understand you haha.

  24. 1

    I'm from the UK and I also think there is a snobbery on accents to certain people with the UK, the Scouse or Geordie accents are looked down upon, and I have noticed people with southern accents often climbing the ladder

    1. 1

      Well there might be an unconscious bias. We are all human.
      Do you think putting together a course for people would be a good idea?
      Any ideas how to test this hypothesis?

      1. 1

        This is actually an old business idea, not sure about other countries but there are allocution lessons which can end up being quite expensive, I would suggest that this is a digital form and probably a really good idea

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