We’ve heard the story many times. A professional who has studied English in their own country relocates to the U.S. for work. They feel confident about their English abilities. But then they’re thrown for a loop by their colleagues’ regional accents.
To a non-native speaker, an American with a strong regional accent might not even sound like they are speaking English. Understandably, that makes it difficult for the expat to do their job. They may feel too self-conscious to admit they are having trouble understanding their colleagues.
And their employer might overlook the need for language training — after all, fluency in English is probably one of the reasons the expat got a U.S. assignment in the first place.
So why does this happen? And, if you’re in this situation, what can you do to better understand your colleagues’ mysterious way of speaking? Don’t worry — we’ve got answers.
Why Are Regional Accents So Tricky?
No matter how much you studied English back home, your classes probably didn’t get around to covering all of the regional accents in the U.S. This doesn’t mean there was a problem with those classes. There are a lot of regional accents here. Your instructors could not possibly have covered them all.
On top of that, most of your English conversation practice before you relocated to the U.S. probably was with people like you: natives of your country who speak English as a second language.
Even if you have previously worked or studied in an English-speaking country, the people you met then might not have spoken with the same regional accent you are dealing with now.
And, truthfully, sometimes even we Americans have trouble understanding people from other regions. If you put someone from Boston and someone from Charleston in the same room, it would take them awhile to get used to each other’s accents.
Benefits of Studying Regional U.S. Accents
We always advise professionals who have relocated to the U.S. to take English classes that specifically address the regional accent their colleagues speak in. If you’re feeling bummed about needing additional instruction after you’ve already studied English for so long, let us assure you that you’ll gain many benefits from the work you put in.
When you better understand your colleagues’ regional accents, you’ll be able to collaborate with them more smoothly. When the ideas are really flowing, you don’t want to slow the momentum by asking your colleagues to repeat themselves. You can also reduce the likelihood of miscommunications.
Learning about your colleagues’ regional accents will also enhance your relationships with them. It makes sense, right? It’s easier to join in conversations, whether in work or social settings, when you actually understand what people are talking about.
Finally, learning a regional accent can be just plain fun. Accents symbolize the rich diversity and variety in the U.S. They will also teach you a lot about a region — for example, the migration patterns that shaped an area.
Master a Regional Accent with Fluency Corp
If you want to master a regional accent, we can help at Fluency Corp. You might assume that we’re only a language training company, but we also help professionals with accents, whether it’s understanding the accent of others or reducing their own accent when speaking English.
Our highly tailored classes, taught by native English speakers, include lots of practical, conversational experience to help you learn English faster and apply what you’ve learned right away.