June 10, 2020

Accent Wisdom, with Marlene Schoenberg

Episode 49:

Marlene Schoenberg has many years of experience as a speech consultant. Over the past 25 years, she has become an accent expert, specializing in working with international scientists, engineers, and executives. Her award-winning work has been honored by her professional peers. Ms. Schoenberg holds a master’s degree in Communication Disorders from Boston University and an Adult ESL Certificate from Hamline University. She has worked with clients from around the world at major corporations in the Twin Cities and nationally. Industries she has served include food, computers, defense, education, health care, insurance, adhesives, tools, electrical power, and banking. Corporate CEOs and VPs have benefited from her services.

Marlene is the author of Pronunciation for Career Growth and Speech Insights for Success. She was a columnist for China Insight News for 3 years. Her work has been featured in The Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, Chicago Tribune, Info World Magazine, and the IBM Speech Viewer Times as well as on cable TV, Internet, Radio, and Channel 11 News with Kerri Miller.

In addition, she has been an adjunct instructor at several community colleges where she established speech biofeedback labs using the IBM Speech Viewer II. Marlene worked at the forefront of using speech recognition technology with high-level clients.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Marlene began helping newcomers to the United States modify their accents using her experience as a speech pathologist, and how this became a new career direction
  • Why it is important to remember that every one of us has an accent, and why no accent is either good or bad
  • Why there is a distinct difference between a discernible accent and an unintelligible one, and how Marlene believes speech patterns to be “old habits”
  • Why assumptions based on accents are entirely listener-based bias, and why certain accents are considered more “sophisticated” than others to many American listeners
  • Marlene outlines how she helps native speakers of American English better listen to and understand speakers with other accents
  • Why learning to listen to and understand accents can be a powerful and marketable business skill
  • How accents often trigger more bias than skin color, and how polarization can play a role in accent bias
  • Marlene shares examples of accents triggering bias and of students who were able to use accent training to advance their careers
  • Why the discernibility of an accent often depends on situational factors like background noise and differences between in-person and telephone communication

Additional resources: