All of my work is online! Why should I worry about accent reduction?

In this age of COVID19, it’s easy to get into the habit of not working on your English pronunciation. You hardly see anyone, all your meetings and classes are on Zoom or Skype – what difference does it make if I’m not practicing? I’m hardly talking anyway!

Well, the biggest difference it makes is, you’re getting out of the habit of practicing! Look, no one likes it – it’s annoying, embarrassing, you can’t tell if anything is actually changing anyway, and there are some amazing cat videos being posted online, and you don’t want to miss them! However, keeping up with your practice can make the difference between no improvement (or even – gasp! – regressing instead of progressing!) and people saying, “wow, what did you do? You sound so different!”

In addition, although most of us are having fewer and fewer meetings today, even online, those meetings are even more important than before, simply because we’re having fewer of them. And the less you practice, the more self-conscious you’ll be the next time you have to speak. Your confidence has increased so much, don’t let yourself down!

When we talk with one another face-to-face, the body language and facial cues are so much easier to see. The way someone’s brow furrows when they don’t understand you, the way their eyebrows raise when they see and understand your point, their arms crossing and them leaning back when they disagree with you, and their arms opening and them leaning forward when they agree. All those little signs that we may not even be aware that we’re picking up on, are so much easier to see when we’re talking in person. However, over a video conference, those clues are much easier to hide, or to overlook. Or, maybe some of the participants aren’t even showing their faces, so you have absolutely NO clue of what they’re thinking!

Those body language cues are 40% to 60% of communication. Without them, it’s even easier to misunderstand people that it usually is. And it’s easier for YOU to be misunderstood, too.

That’s why continuing to practice your pronunciation is so important. People need to be able to understand you without being able to see your body language and facial expressions as clearly as they usually can. You have to be able to get your point across well, so you can get those participation points, help your group work on their project, show your manager that you know your stuff, and give your client the information they need so they’ll want to buy your product.

Communication is important. Now more than ever.

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