Canvassing Deplorable Accent Bias in school, Colleges and Universities

By Kumari Rajnigandha 2017-11-07 13:47:40     94


Scarce are organizations which are committed to upholding the policies of diversity and inclusion. Despite efforts to eliminate the discriminatory policies form the Universities and Colleges, one form of discrimination goes completely unnoticed and remains quite accepted is the prejudice against regional and foreign accents. While the universities have achieved remarkable success in rooting out discrimination based on nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 such as religion, race, sex and disability against staff and teachers but accent bias remains very much ingrained.

There are training programs such as accent reduction and Received Pronunciation especially for foreign students and native speakers with a strong regional accent. These programs are a part of the presentation skills training and are provided so as to tone down any irregularities to occur in the accents.

There ought to be space for varied accents in the classroom so as to create a more inclusive curriculum. Only a handful of research exists on the significance of varied accents, foreign or regional, of the staff and students in either classroom or syllabus content. Inspired by Hamid Nancify’s book An Accented Cinema, a project is initiated to embed regional accents into the curriculum through the incorporation of pedagogic strategies. The project poses several questions toward the academy and its attitude to different regional and foreign accents.

Correcting accent bias will improve overall classroom experience will make the students and staff feel more valued. Students should not be self-conscious because of their accent otherwise they will get reluctant to partake in classroom discussions, seminars and open discussions; leading to the loss of all the learners. Efforts ought to be made to create an environment which has an open attitude to the diversity of accents.