How to Roll Your ‘R’s: Why Indians in US Opt for Accent Coaching

Several Indians are resorting to accent coaching in order to sound more American. The Quint explores why.

Updated
The Indian American
2 min read

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

With a major increase in the population of Indians in the US over the last decade, as per data from South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), it’s no surprise that more and more Indians are opting for accent-coaching classes.

"I’d say about 20% of our clients are Indian, and that represents one of the three largest groups of students," Joel Miller, an accent coach tells The Quint.

The coveted H1-B worker visas are issued more to Indians than any other nationality.

Indians also make up the second-largest international student population in the United States – causing them to move beyond just spoken English, in order to 'sound more American'.

Why The Need for Accent Coaching?

"Why people are resorting to accent coaching for personal reasons is because we tend to associate accents with all these other qualities. Depending on how you sound, you might be perceived as unfriendly, unattractive, trustworthy, untrustworthy etc", says Vijay Ramjattan, a PhD Researcher at the University of Toronto, .

Citing the concern of his students, Miller said "[Indians] find themselves in situations where they have to repeat themselves often, or they have to rephrase their sentences, or even speak in slow motion so as to be understood, and that’s when they usually reach out to us for assistance", explaining the high demand for accent modification.

Not taking away from individual agency and insecurities that may have led them to seek accent coaching, Ramjattan presses that the focus is misplaced. It needs to shift from the speaker to the listener, says he.

"We tend to treat accents as this inherent problem in communication, but really, the problem is often our perspective of different accents and the way we can change our perception of different accents is by shifting our focus on listening to different types of accents".

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