The University of British Columbia has cancelled a workshop for international students after facing backlash for its focus on reducing accents.
The workshop, advertised as being on “effective interview speech skills,” was in an email sent out to international students on Jan. 31 by the Work Integrated Education and Career Initiatives department, according to an anonymous post on UBC Confessions Facebook page.
|Some of the comments by students at UBC in response to the workshop. (Screenshot)|
The class was set to feature Andy Kreiger, whose business includes “The K Method” accent reduction package.
According to his website, Krieger has taught his “accent reduction” methods to more than 23,000 students. Before his freelance work, he was a dialogue coach on movie sets, oftentimes teaching Canadian actors how to speak “American.”
Testimonials on his website include one student who says they were admitted into UBC’s medical school after taking his classes. “I believed that it plays an important role in my interview success,” the student, named Raymond, said.
According to the university’s student newspaper, the Ubyssey, the workshop was cancelled later that day.
Julie Walchli, executive director of the department that organized the workshop, said in an emailed statement to Black Press Media on Friday that the goal of the workshop was not accent reduction, but “practical strategies to help non-native English speakers communicate in high-pressure situations such as job interviews.”
She said the workshop was in response to feedback from some international students who said they were anxious about such interviews.
Organizers are now looking at ways to broaden their approach and host an interview skills workshop that “includes all students and will effectively meet their needs.”