From a "bad experience", I wrote an article on LinkedIn and here
It's curious because I saw my experience as a learning opportunity:
How is it works in the states? I won't work in this company and I won't apply again, and after few hours of research and interesting English reading that improved my vocabulary skills, I wrote about thousand words in English in less than two hours.
On the other hand, my network basically said, "so sorry", "this guy was a jerk", "welcome to Utah", comments face to face and in my Social Media that I didn't expect. Wasn't easy to explain to them that the important point wasn't the guy, or their attitude, the key point was the opportunity to learn!
Now, the article will become a presentation in one big local organization, about 100 project managers, will learn how to overcome accents when working on international projects.
Lessons Learnt: There are no bad experiences, there are opportunities to grow.
Leading multicultural and international projects, I realized that an image is much more powerful than a hundred words or "friendly reminders". That's why, taking the example of the viral "Be like Bill or Pepe" (for Spanish version), I decided that during some of my meetings was helpful to prepare a slide with Ana.
Ana is smart and tries to catch the attendees attention for following basic ground rules for attendants to the meetings.
Feel free to like/share and comment the article in LinkedIn
One's intellectual ability is often judged on the basis of how well one speaks English. Foreign accents and accents related to variation in style and pronunciation of native English speech can be subject to negative evaluation and discrimination.
Utah with their promotion of Silicon Slopes becomes an increasingly multicultural state, it is to be hoped that we will become increasingly skilled in communicating with those who speak English with various accents as well as tolerant in our attitudes toward all accents.
During my last job interview, the hiring manager wasn’t available to manage properly our cultural differences o he didn’t have the will to do it. After a few minutes of conversation the hiring manager said: “In a non-offensively way, but you have a very hard accent and we don't need waste more time with this conversation, because we work with blue collars, and you know..., they will not understand you”.
His comment blown my mind, I wasn’t available to say anything, and sincerely him or his company doesn’t need more of my time. But I was curious about EEOC information and if there is a “Standard English Definition”
Is there a Standard English?
My basis of English were acquired in Europe, it means, my pronunciation of the letters “t” is more strong than in the States, but, I incorrectly assumed that at the end, all is English, and my mix between my Spanish and British accent never was a showstopper for communications, I studied that there are different pronunciations ...tomayto, tomehto, or that past verbs as learned/learnt are completely different spelt, but at the end, all my teachers or mentors always said communications is two ways, and the most important is your will to improve.
In the entry for "Standard English" in The Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992), Tom McArthur observes that Standard English "is widely used term that resists easy definition but is used as if most educated people nonetheless know precisely what it refers to." Milroy and Milroy (1999) suggest that Standard English is "an idea in the mind rather than a reality, a set of abstract norms to which actual usage may conform to a greater or lesser extent"
For people, Standard English (SE) is a synonym for good or correct English usage. Others use the term to refer to a specific geographical dialect of English or a dialect favored by the most powerful and prestigious social group. Some linguists argue that there really is no single standard of English.
Then, is there a World Standard English?
When I read newspapers or listen to the news, from different English speaker countries, I quickly realize that there is no World Standard English version. Each country where English is the first language is aware of their linguistic identity, and try to preserve it.
And what happen with all the other countries? For those like me, that we have English as a secondary language, I think that we can be grouped into two categories depending on our geographical situation, we were trained to pronounce as American English or British English.
And what about accents?
The Cambridge dictionary defines the accents as the way in which people in a particular area or country pronounce words.
Sometimes people told me that I talk funny or have a “cute” accent, this is due to features, including duration, rhythm, stress, pitch, intonation, and loudness. (being from Spain loudness is key)
Lenneberg, E. H. (1967).in his book Biological foundations of language, noted that the degree to which a person can substitute one accent for another is severely dependent upon the age at which the second language is learned.
Then, at my age or for all those like me, non-native speakers, it is unrealistic to expect sound just like a native English speaker, regardless our commitment, intelligence, and motivation.
Attitudes Towards Accents
In one study, Shiri Lev-Ari, a psycholinguist at the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, asked non-native speakers of Polish, Turkish, Austrian-German, Korean, and Italian to record banal statements like “Ants don’t sleep” in English. Native English speakers recorded the same ones. When native English speakers rated the recordings for their veracity, they rated the speakers with the heaviest accents as least true, while native speakers were rated most true.
From experiments like these, it can be tempting to conclude that the cognitive difficulties imposed by non-native speech inevitably lead to social discrimination.
But as Lev-Ari points out, the more we’re exposed to foreign accents, the more our brains train themselves to parse the speech more efficiently.
Remember, communication is a two-way process, both the speaker and the listener have a responsibility for the act of communication.
Article originally published on LinkedIn
During the following week to the speech, I wanted to get some feedback.
I checked my chapter LinkedIn group, I not only posted a survey also, I sent more than 400 personal messages thru LinkedIn, and I get some amazing answers.
Today, more than one month after the presentation
Each one the experience is different but based on mine, if you want to make a presentation in your chapter take in mind.
- Know your chapter. You’ll feel more confident if you already meet the director boards, or maybe some members.
- Agree on all term and conditions. Usually, the chapter will send you an agreement, but they are quite standard. Maybe you’ll be interested in know before hand simply things like
- Can I upload the presentation in SlideShare?
- Can I propose the presentation content in projectmanagment.com?
- Will be the presentation recorded? When and where will be updated?
- Will you send to the attendees a survey?
- Will you provide me feedback about the presentation?
- Will you be interested in my participation for other chapter sessions?
- Could you write me a recommendation letter to send to other organizations?
Yes, easy questions that I completely forgot, and after the presentation was more difficult to get answers.
Don’t be shy, you can give back more than you imagine.
Do it! It’s an amazing and challenging experience.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed and learned something with my experience.
If you think that your chapter will be interested in this presentation, don’t hesitate to contact me.
The presentation is available to download in the following link.
Thank you for your comments!
One week before of the Big day, my chapter sent a promotional email, announcing the event. I couldn’t avoid sharing it with my personal Social Media.
This is me:
And this was the other speaker, yes, you can google it, he is an actor, bishop, writer, and professional speaker.
My thoughts at this moment “Oh my gosh! This will be more challenging that expected”
The big day arrived, as the session was scheduled in business time, I was expecting about 50-60 people, in a training environment.
When I arrived at the place, I saw that.
I asked my only POC in the chapter about the number of attendees, about 130…at this first moment I wanted to disappear.
First TODO, test the computer…as always, issues with the connections, how that was possible, I tested hundred times at home, with different monitors, friends projectors…and as always. Murphy’s law.
After, I observed a camera; I asked if they are going to prepare as a webinar, or share in someplace, my POC explained that they were going to test it for the first time. Again, I wanted to disappear for the second time. I wasn’t aware of that.
The moment arrived; I did one step ahead and did my presentation in the stipulated time.
After the presentation, my tablemates congratulated me.
We had an amazing lunch and networking time, and then a professional speaker started his speech. Wow huge a difference! Then, I’ve realized that I was lucky to start first; else, I really would have disappeared.
Lesson Learned 3 - Don't assume anything
Lesson Learned 4 - Be prepared for technical issues.
Lesson Learned 5 - Challenging opportunities make me grow.