NRI Tips: A complete guide on accent reduction and English language accent improvement!
Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibration as in twanging them to bring out their music. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is one of the final segments of a series of articles written on how to lose your accent. This article includes a brief summary of earlier posts, tips based on personal experiments with different approaches and some additional tools on accent softening.
Before we start, it is very important to remember that:
-Our success or failure depends on our commitment. However, it is easier to make a commitment toward a goal, if we know that ‘help’ is around the corner – ‘help’ such as this information.
-Nobody can help us better than ourselves.
With that in mind, the information below is a self-help or a guide on accent softening, accent reduction and how to lose your accent ultimately:
Accent is normal: We all have accent, it is the way we speak; it is the way we used to talk in our neighborhood growing up. It only becomes an accent when we leave our neighborhood and go far away where they speak differently. Even within the same country, the same language is spoken with different slang, and in different style. Have you ever seen a white person in India trying to speak Hindi? Now, that is an accent; it is more than an accent – most of the time it is a slaughterhouse 🙂 ! So don’t feel too bad if someone tell you that you have a ‘thick’ accent. This is normal. You can read more about accent basics in this linked post.
How to lose or soften your accent: The main process and methods are detailed in the post titled ‘How to lose your accent’. It has received some very good reviews all around. Out of all the segments mentioned here, if you have time for only one article, this is the article you should go to. The process of accent softening – as outlined in the linked article – involves following key steps:
Personal lessons & self-improvement tips from kids’ lemonade stand:
You most likely have driven by many lemonade stands in your neighborhood, where young kids are selling lemonade on a roadside or from a street corner. But, have you been to one of them lately? If not, you should. You can learn a lot from them, we all can. Here are some of the life lessons to take home from a kids’ lemonade stand:
1. Keep it simple: One table, one or two chairs, disposable glasses, a container for money and lemonade supplies- that’s the most of it. That is all they need to meet their objective. Still, it looks so complete, as if nothing is missing. Everything that is required is right there. 2. Welcome with a smile: The young kids always have an enthusiasm about their endeavors, always welcome you with a smile. The minute you walk in (or drive in), you feel at home. 🙂 3. Entertaining and interesting: It is never boring at the lemonade stands. While you enjoy your lemonade, kids are busy with something ‘cool’, something refreshing. They may be telling some funny story, singing carelessly, running after each other, reacting to the tip they just received, performing some cheers/ dance-routines, juggling lemons or doing something else to attract the customers. Continue reading “Live your life like a kids’ lemonade stand!”
India has had its fair share of problems originating from religions and races. The politics combined with religion has been very troublesome for India for decades.
However, what is going on in Iran is much bigger than day-to-day politics. It is not a simple case of disputed election, even though the election results and suspected voter frauds were the trigger. What people of Iran are dealing with is something greater than politics, something much more important. An average human being is fighting for his or her rights; the basic rights that a country owes to its citizens; the basic freedom that you and me are so used to. They are demanding a change. Continue reading “Iran: Humanity, freedom and the choice of right over wrong!”
The ‘unconscious adaption’ to the foreign culture and language.
When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself. ~ Plato
I talk to myself all the times, I always have. Bigger the dilemma, more I talk; this is also another way of my brainstorming and mulling over new ideas.
Be it a thinking out loud or in whispers or in silence, thinking is part of being human. Thinking and logic is what separates us from the animals. We all think, it is a part of our problem solving nature.
For those living overseas or away from the place of your childhood, do you ‘think’ in your mother tongue or the adopted foreign/new language?
Back home in India, my train of thought was always in my mother tongue. It was natural; speaking the same language as my brain, thinking something and then saying it loud during the conversation. It was automatic -without noticeable delays.
And then, I came to America. 🙂
When I first came here, I recall that I continued to think in my mother tongue, even when talking to my American colleagues – in a meeting at work or any other social settings. I used to think in my mother tongue, and then I would translate my thoughts it into English for the verbal exchange. At times it slowed me down; It was no longer automatic. I used to re-phrase a lot. This is how it was; I never thought it would change much.
It is the nature of science and its followers– to keep coming up with new inventions and new discoveries. How we use them is a different story. 🙂
Intelligender, a Texas based company, has created a ‘boy or girl gender prediction test’. The expecting moms can use this test on a urine sample as early as 10 weeks after the conception to determine the sex of the baby. The accuracy rate of the test is at 78-80%.
The manufacturing company specifically suggests not to make any emotional or financial decision based on this test, and to continue to rely on the traditional and more reliable test from your doctor at later stage in the pregnancy.
So, what is the point of this test?
Well, it provides additional piece of information ahead of time, for those who cannot wait, the company says.
While this test is a way to address the curiosity of the expecting parents, its ‘side-effects’ could be significant. As we all know, in many cultures and countries including India, a baby boy is often welcome more than a little girl. That is how it is, especially among the older generation. So, if the test predicts a girl, the news may not be so good in some families.
Also, there could be opposite preference in many cases. For example, a mother with already two sons may want to conceive a daughter instead; this could apply anywhere in any culture –India or US, white or brown. So this could be feared to become a screening test, even though the accuracy rate is nowhere close to 100%. Continue reading “Expecting a boy or a girl? Test baby-gender at home!”
An average human being is a decent and caring person, without major biases against any color, cast or creed. However, there also exists a small %age of individuals who do not fit into this category. There are some who have strong feelings and biases against other social groups or races, to the point that those feelings are churned into hatred over time.
The problem is that these extreme groups or individuals have acted on their feelings of dislike or hatred more often in recent days. Lately, we have seen racial violence all over the places that can be related to hate crimes including the following incidents: Continue reading “Overseas hate crimes on the rise?”
Global issue of racial bias against NRIs and Indians abroad
Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh,
This letter is on behalf of the social commentary site ‘The Indians Abroad’ based out of USA. The letter is prompted by the current incidents of racial attacks against Indians in Melbourne, Australia. However, this long overdue request and suggestion is more towards the need of general awareness of negative bias against Indians abroad, and finding ways to minimize it.
Most of us go abroad for the main reasons of education or for finding better opportunities for ourselves and for our families. The challenges of adapting to the foreign culture and the social issues of minority status are part of our daily living. These issues are often discussed and well understood by most of the Indian communities. The recent incidents of violence against Indians in Australia have exposed the tip of this iceberg – the often ignored racial biases against Indian immigrants that exist in most of the Western society.
The day-to-day racial violence is not-so-common in the developed countries in this day and age; however, the related discrimination is everywhere. The social perception of Indians in the Western society is pretty negative. A large number of NRIs settled abroad are highly skilled professionals – doctors, engineers, scientists and so on…., but the overall view of the Indian community abroad is that of a low class society.
Communication Tips: Accent softening & accent reduction methods
Accent improvement for effective communications is a key part of personal growth and personal development. As I said before, changing the way we speak is equivalent of breaking a habit.
To break one habit, we need to develop a new one -to ultimately affect the way be speak. This is not going to happen overnight, but you will see an improvement right away, that is if you are serious about losing your accent.
Here are some of the routines to help reduce, and ultimately lose your accent:
Plan ahead: If you are still in India, in the planning stage of immigration, one of the best thing to do is to expose yourself to the spoken English language, Western style and slang, as much as possible. Some of the simple suggestions include: Continue reading “How to lose your accent!”
As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma.~Sri Guru Granth Sahib, The Holi Book of Sikh Religion
Me and my karma often talk to each other. Well actually, I do most of the talking. And, I hope and wish that my karma listens to my one way communications, at least once in a while!
‘The karma has a mysterious way of responding’, so I was are taught. I have never been able to figure out how it works. Our karma is the result of our actions – good or bad; but when, where and how will you see those results is a not a planned outcome, as far as I can tell from my own experience!
To solve these mysteries of my karma, I have tried some out-of-the-box ideas for a long time. I even once befriended a Punjabi dude with the same name – Karma. However, I found out that my karma had nothing to do with my new friend, so we have drifted apart since. Now and then, I still get calls from him, some times in the middle of the night, due to time difference between Jalandhar and Chicago. He mostly calls me to ask for more money; “it will ‘clean’ my karma and make it better”, he says. I tried it a few times a while back, but I did not win any lottery; nor did it help me with any other stuff that would prove this ‘karma cleaning’!
Since I came to USA, I have realized that my overseas karma is no sharper or better than what it was back in India. Everybody used to tell me, “Going to America is a sign of good kismat and good karma”. So, I thought my good karma would follow the glory of my new NRI status. However, I am not-so-happy to report that the whole thing, – this going to America – may be a bit over-hyped. My karma has been quite sluggish, especially during the first few years of my farang experiences. Just like most of the new-comers, I have had my share of overseas hurdles and challenges.. Continue reading “O Karma! Where Art Thou?”
A choice between comfort of overseas and home country
“No matter under what circumstances you leave it, home does not cease to be home. No matter how you lived there-well or poorly.” ~ Joseph Brodsky
Non Resident Indians (NRIs), the expatriates from India are scattered all over the globe. They are living a prosperous life, at least so it seems. These NRIs are happily settled in these adopted countries, but often frequent their homeland – India, to visit their friends, families and the memories they have left behind. In most of the cases, the NRIs are citizens or permanent residents of these countries; however, they consider India as their true home.
Most of these overseas Indians or NRIs are well settled in the new country. The new culture, the new life and the new comforts have created a strong bond to the new land. Majority of these NRIs help their loved ones to migrate as well; so the whole family unit ends up living abroad.
Even though the ties with the past remain; the family, – especially the younger generation – has a strong attachment to the Western lifestyle. This is the natural influence of local culture and social settings; the natural effect of the long term exposure to the western society. Continue reading “The NRI dilemma: This country or that home?”
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” ~ Unknown
‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’
‘The present is nothing but a result of our own past actions.’
‘Our present and future is affected by the cause and effects of our past.’…
All this is karma, the reflection or effects of our own doings from the past. Over time, we are expected to be punished or negated for the bad deeds, and rewarded for the good ones. The concept of Karma is the basis of world equilibrium, a way of balancing the universe. The inequalities are related to the constructive or destructive actions of human beings.
As we all know, a person’s true identity is not based on his words but his actions. In very basic terms, someone with good intentions and clear conscious living a noble life is expected to have good karma. Any incident that adversely affects our life is blamed on bad karma – the result of destructive or ‘bad’ deeds from the past.
Of course, this is simplification, but our karma can be directly related to our conscience.A person with clear conscience always thinks twice before doing something hurtful or bad. He/she often sticks to a positive outlook and prefers ‘right’ actions, instead of the ‘wrong’ ones. The conscience provides us the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. The karma eventually rewards him/her for all the beneficent or ‘right’ actions. On the contrary, someone without a conscience would be more inclined to be selfish and sinful, less thoughtful while taking advantage of a situation with no regard for others’ welfare. Those actions eventually catch up with us, and the karma is bound to punish sooner or later for ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ deeds. Continue reading “The Karma Concept”
NRI Tips: The unconscious bias and the depth of racial issues abroad
There is no dispute that America is one of the richest countries where entrepreneurial spirit strives for excellence; freedom of speech is respected and encouraged. Every work place preaches and teaches diversity. However, in spite of all the progress, the American society as a whole continue to struggle with racial discrimination and racial biases.
Many have undertaken the noble task of investigating and researching racism and race relations in America. I outlined a few very basic aspects of it in a previous article ‘ABC of race relation in America’. Some of the interesting studies of modern days blame this human behavior of discrimination on ‘unconscious bias’. The studies point to the fact that the racial bias is linked to our subconscious behavior where we discriminate, unknowingly to a large extent, even when we don’t mean it.
NRI Tips: The overseas issues and hurdles for a desi or NRI !
Leaving India and going abroad -USA, Canada, England….-is a very big step, a life changing experience in the true sense of the words. To search for a better future, we often leave behind everything- the friends, the family members, the social circle and the personal identity in most cases.
It is a very common perception, – and true to an extent – that going abroad will improve our life and the lives of those who depend on us. It is always made to sound all too easy to settle and prosper in Western countries as an NRI.
The overseas life is always portrayed to be full of luxury and without hardships. The big mansions and large farming lands in any neighborhood of India are invariably linked to those who have gone abroad.
But, this is far from the real truth. There is no doubt that many of these countries are considered the land of opportunities with a lot of promise. The amenities of daily life and conveniences of a developed society combined with buying power of the dollar offer a lot of lure and attraction.
However, the reality is far different and a newcomer from India is hit with the real truth about life soon after deporting the plane. What was taken for granted till yesterday – the language, the education and common social behavior – is all up for recalibration in the new land
The facts is that the challenges overseas are very real and hurdles to succeed are much higher for a foreigner. It is not one or two isolated issues but a combination of many such problems that create the real experience abroad, an experience quite different than anyone expects.