“Lisa Trongprakob used to dread self-introductions. People often asked her to spell out ‘Lisa’ as they couldn’t understand her pronunciation ‘Li-tha.’ Growing up in Thailand, she began to learn English when she was just four years old and excelled in language exams at school. But when she came to the U.S. at 24 to study computer science at Cornell University, she found that her accent often got in the way of communication.
Now in her 30s, Trongprakob works at Google as a software engineer. And like many of her immigrant counterparts working at U.S. companies–or running them–she is expected to speak pristine, accent-free English. ‘I’ve always known that [my accent] is a problem,’ says Trongprakob. ‘In general, people here expect you to speak English very clearly.’
That pressure has created something of a cottage industry in language instruction and accent modification classes among technology workers and international entrepreneurs in the U.S.”
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