The Value of An American Education
In today’s global economy, international MBA students are choosing to study in America, believing the American educational experience combined with a learned comfort level interpreting the American accent will place them ahead of equally qualified job candidates.
Every year more than 1,400,000 exchange students apply to study abroad, with business majors making up roughly 2 percent of the aforementioned total in the United States. Although these numbers would seem to indicate the assimilation of foreign students into American culture occurs smoothly, acceptance into universities is predicated around students passing the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test.
Why TOEFL scores can be misleading
Foreign exchange students are required to take either the TOEFL test or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test to enter U.S. universities. Both tests are divided into reading, listening, speaking and writing portions, measuring a prospective student’s ability to interpret and communicate in the English language.
A troubling aspect of the test to college professors is the fact only twenty minutes is devoted to the speaking section, causing students to focus heavily on memorizing English vocabulary rather than trying to actively learn the language. Consequently, teachers have reported some students, who grow up using mainly memorization techniques in studying for tests, cannot keep pace with their classmates during discussions.
Teachers have also been forced to use simpler terminology to avoid confusing foreign students. Those students understand English well in written form, but report their foreign accent prohibits them when participating in class. Accent reduction classes are thus recommended, with the ultimate goal being to get the student back into a classroom environment to begin working on communication goals.
What lasting challenges do foreign MBA exchange students face?
How easily foreign MBA students adapt to the American accent is largely dependent on if English happens to be the main secondary language in their home country, since if this is the case they likely will have been exposed to the conventions of formal English.
An unprecedented number of students pursuing an MBA or those who recently earned an MBA are enrolling in accent reduction classes. At Accent Pros alone, over 85% of the students we served in 2011 had earned or would soon earn an MBA. Each individual tells a slightly different story about their rationale for reducing their foreign accent, but each person shares a common theme.
All agree communication is an essential skill in business and each has set a goal to equalize their opportunity for career advancement. If you have the same or similar communication goals related to accent reduction, consider the in-office or online programs offered at Accent Pros.