Shelley Goldbeck Chief Eternal Optimist Accent Reduction Company

Shelley Goldbeck
Chief Eternal Optimist
Accent Reduction Company

Talk Like a Canadian

I suspect you’ve landed on this page because you or someone you know suffers professionally or personally because of English as  Second (or third or fourth) Language (ESL) and they have difficulty making themselves understood.

In our global business environment, multiple ethnic cultures cobbled together in our workplaces and communities is normal. As Canadians, we are exceptionally acceptable of our neighbours from abroad.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. We are increasingly challenged to understand new Canadians because of the different accents they have. And we know they often can’t understand us.

One of my clients told me 75% of his staff are ESL and 75% of his customer complaints are language related.

Back when I used to occasionally visit fast food drive-throughs, I often left frustrated by my inability to understand the attendants at the window and I was sure they couldn’t understand me.

I believed then, as I still do, that employers must take some responsibility for ensuring their staff can speak our language well enough to do their jobs. Their reputations, their customer loyalty, and their bottom lines depend on it.

I recognized that most ESLs, especially professionals like engineers and nurses, know English structure, grammar, and vocabulary as well as or better than the average English speaker. Their problem is pronunciation.

They likely learned the wrong pronunciation from their ESL teachers. Or they get good enough to be understood half the time and they become complacent, not bothering to improve further.

Many ESLs attend Toastmasters, the first thing I recommend for ESLs to improve their English pronunciation. Some of my fellow ESL toastmasters felt they needed more help. So we ran a pilot Accent Reduction Program, did some classes and coaching focussed on pronunciation, video recorded everyone before and after, and found that our students showed improvement after only two to four lessons. They all saw the value in the program and they begged for more.

I decided this is a service my city needs so I started Accent Reduction Company with some help from many other people.

We run classes of up to 12 people at your workplace. Our teaching model is similar to a Toastmasters meeting in that we are warm, supportive, objective, giving constant feedback, and everybody participates throughout the classes. We conduct video pre and post assessments to measure results. Lessons are recorded and available for review online in a membership area.

We offer one-on-one coaching for those who need more than classes or who prefer the sole attention of our speech coaches. We are also building an online video library of lessons and idioms.

We believe that awareness of the problem comes first. Then we can work on solutions.

If you or someone you know desires to reduce their accent, Talk Like a Canadian, contact us.