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From the Accent Trainer: Being Bilingual is Indeed a Superpower!

I have always enjoyed hearing other languages, other accents and learning about other cultures. As an accent trainer I have the privilege of speaking with people who speak languages other than American English. I love learning about the process of learning a the American English accent and how accents in general can be shaped. I consider myself lucky to live and work in an area where I interact with people from other countries regularly. I truly love working with my clients and supporting them to improve their communication skills in American English. More than this, I truly

admire my clients and others who learn other languages especially for use in their professional life. I believe in the statement “Being bilingual is a superpower,” which is a popular phrase around ESL classrooms and recently in the media. It demonstrates an intellectual flexibility, courage and drive that garners respect.

This is not a statement that is made without evidence. There are many benefits to being bilingual. Researchers found that bilingual speakers are more likely to make decisions based on reason rather than emotion or bias. (Keysar, B; Hayakawa, S.L ; An, S. G. 2012).Their subjects' thought processes utilized critical thinking more than monolingual speakers. An article in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (Agirdag, 2014) states that people who speak more than one language earn $3000 more annually than their monolingual counterparts. Several researchers agree that bilingualism may even prevent dementia. In an article in the BBC journal Mosiac Gaia Vince interviews Jubin Abutalebi, at a neuropsychologist from the University of San Raffaele in Milan . Dr. Abutalebi states that the brain imaging of bilinguals show a larger anterior cingulate cortex which governs complex cognitive function, and impulse control.


Accent training serves to support clients in adding an accent, not erasing their identity by speaking “perfect English.” This new set of skills will enable speakers of English as a new language to code switch or “shift” into an American English accent where it increases comfort, clarity, or establishes rapport with their colleagues, clients, and patients.

References:

Agirdag, O. (2014). "The long-term effects of bilingualism on children of immigration: student bilingualism and future earnings". International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. 17 (4): 449–464

Keysar, B; Hayakawa, S.L ; An, S. G. (18 April 2012). "The Foreign-Language Effect: Thinking in a Foreign Tongue Reduces Decision Biases". Psychological Science.23 (6): 661–668.

Vince, G. Mosaic@future BBC https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20160811-the-amazing-benefits-of-being-bilingual

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