Is accent an eligibility criterion for OET aspirants?

The answer is a big NO. And if asked why, obviously just because lot many of us follow the logic of sacrificing coherence and clarity for accent.

A common concern of employers when considering whether to recruit healthcare team members from overseas is the issue of cultural differences. Cultural differences embody a range of factors such as:

• Accent and ease of communication

• Core nursing capabilities and Patient focus

• The ability to gel well with other team members

• The risk of “factionalism”

Some of this can be assessed at the interview – for example, a patient’s core values and how easy the interviewer finds it to build a rapport with the candidate. However, if the region has a very strong accent or a very low proportion of non-native speakers, the communication skills of the candidate maybe even more important.

It is important to note that all international nurses must have demonstrated their English Language skills to a high degree (either via the IELTS or OET) prior to registering as a nurse, however, the exam doesn’t always filter out those with a strong accent or account for a candidate working within an area that has a very strong local accent.

It is necessary that you should have a proper accent and you also need to make use of correct English. But, communicating the right content in the right way is of utmost importance. Pronunciation should be right and also ensure that you speak in your own natural accent. It is not essential that you should have a British/American accent but if you can speak in your accent with no mother tongue influence, it gives an extra beauty to your communication.

When it comes to language proficiency tests, particularly speaking tests, clarity and effective communication are key. Using your natural accent is generally recommended because authenticity and clarity in pronunciation are prioritized over trying to mimic a specific accent.

Language learners often have various accents, and that’s perfectly normal. The focus should be on clear articulation, proper intonation, and effective communication. If you’re working on a specific accent, it’s indeed a good idea to practice it well in advance to feel more comfortable and confident during the test.

It’s crucial to strike a balance between refining your language skills and maintaining authenticity. Practising with friends, language exchange partners, or language tutors can be beneficial for honing your pronunciation and overall language proficiency. Ultimately, the goal is to be easily understood and convey your message effectively, regardless of the specific accent you may have.

Now, how is coherence more beneficial than the accent in communication? Coherent communication means that the ideas are well connected and they flow smoothly from one to the next, in a logical manner. While bringing your thoughts together clearly and concisely making a complete sense of the spoken context is what is known as being coherent. For health professionals especially this coherent communication is truly valid as whatever is written or spoken if lacks this connection will agitate the ones on the receiving end. Hence, their communication needs to be expressed clearly, logically, and intelligibly

So, let’s have a look at a few tips to help you improve your communication skills:
  • Stressing too much on the accent may affect your communication so focus more on speaking with clarity at a natural pace using meaningful words. Pronunciation has a great impact on how you deliver the content. The wrong pronunciation of an individual sound or word will hinder effective communication. More than stressing on accent, focus on the right pronunciations and stress on the sounds or part of the words that demand the right stress in order to sound effective. Similar-sounding words should be handled with immense care while communicating, as they might end up confusing the listeners.
  • Adhere to the English language pronunciation that you’ve been taught since childhood. It’s a fact that the same words are pronounced differently in American and British English. Hence, in a conversation, when you are on the hearing side, please ensure that their English terms don’t confuse you as a listener. And, in the situations wherein you are confused by their pronunciations, do show the courtesy to request them in a polite manner to clear your confusion on the same and do not bother much about impressing them with your knowledge on their accent and the English they follow.
  • Controlling your rate of speaking is another important point and in other words, it means not to go too fast! Some people speak English very fast and this makes it more unclear to the listeners. Some people do this out of habit, but for some, their nervousness ends up in a mindset to just say and finish it and few also do it as they feel that speaking in a fast manner will make them sound more fluent. Be it any of the reasons above, if your English is unclear to your listeners, it is definitely going to affect your career so always follow the motto “don’t go too fast.”
  • Mumbling is another major problem hindering effective communication. English has quite a lot of mouth and jaw movement compared to many other languages. When people don’t open and move their mouths and jaw when they speak English, it’s called mumbling and it results in making your English quite unclear for your listeners.

Besides, impressing and winning hearts with communication also includes appropriateness of language wherein the impact of your language, tone and professionalism positively creates a comfort on your listener’s side. Secondly, focus on the grammar and expression because your grammatical accuracy and vocabulary choices do impact in creating a positive impression over your listeners. Basically, you win while communicating when you don’t challenge your listeners with your vocabulary, accent and pronunciations.

In summary, there is no quick fix solution for an effective communication, but the right focus on simple and steady mode of communicating with clarity must be well considered with utmost importance for any OET aspirant.

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Published On: June 16th, 2023 / Categories: OET /

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