Hearing Audible Minorities: Accent, Discrimination, and the Integration of Immigrants into the Canadian Labour Market
thesisposted on 2021-05-22, 13:38 authored by Alanna MacDougall
Accent is a permanent marker of difference for learners of a second language, and may be a barrier to finding appropriate employment. Research on discrimination and accent reveals a widespread belief in the myth of a standard, ideal accent. This has resulted in individuals stereotyping accented speakers and drawing inappropriate conclusions about their language ability, leading to discrimination in both the workplace and broader society. A small study of Ottawa companies conducted for this paper supports the hypothesis that some employers may rely on accent to determine an applicant's English proficiency. Accent discrimination can be addressed by providing employers with information about accent and appropriate tools for language evaluation, confronting the reality of accent discrimination with ESL students, and by broadening the discourse on discrimination as a whole to recognize that minorities can be audible as well as visible.