Turn Your Accent into an Asset – New Event

A free workshop will be offered on January 11, 2010 for people who speak with a foreign accent and would like to be more intelligible in American English.  Check out our Events Page for more information.

Posted on 17 December 2009 | Category: Accent, General


Code Switching

You do not have to inspire large groups of people, speak poetically, or weave elaborate stories in order to be an effective communicator.  The results of our daily interactions are a better measure of our ability to communicate.  One aspect of communication that most of us use is called code switching.  This is the ability to alternate between languages, dialects, and communication styles to fit the audience or situation.  


Conversations can be altered entirely or within sentences.  Alterations can be made to vocabulary and grammar, as well as to nonverbal aspects of comunication like voice, articulation, and body language.  The most obvious situations where this strategy is used are among multi-lingual and multicultural societies, such as the United States. Check out this YouTube video about how advertisers are using code switching to sell their products.   


Sometimes code switching can lead to funny situations:  If you have spent time with family or friends who communicate differently than your professional associates, you are likely to bring words and sounds particular to that experience back to work with you.  One time I was checking out after an appointment.  There were papers to sign and dates to confirm and when we were finished, I said in a chirpy, peppy voice with a bright smile, “All done?”  This came directly from my experience as a new mom…the sleep deprivation also contributed.


During training, clients will make faster progress if they primarily use their target communication style.  This may mean limiting their native language use and code switching behavior.  However, this is not always possible or desirable.  It is important for each person to make conscious choices about how they want to communicate in different situations;  important but challenging.


How do you use code switching?  Have you seen others effectively (or ineffectively) use code switching?

Posted on 8 December 2009 | Category: Accent, Communication, General