Article

Working in your Second Language

Mathieu Langelier

Business Analyst | Consulting

Summer 2012, Cape May, New Jersey, USA

Me: “Cap May Camping Resort, Mathieu on the phone, how can I help you today?”

Caller: “I want to speak to an American! I can’t understand your accent!”

This summarizes the summer when I first experienced what it was like working in my second language. At that time, I had only worked and lived in my mother tongue which, as you can guess from my name, is French. Since that summer, I decided to work and study in English. I could have chosen the easy way and stuck with French, but to be honest, I don’t like simple things. So I decided to challenge myself and live in my second language.

Since that decisive moment, I have to overcome many fears daily. The fear of not being understood because of my accent (thanks to the person who refused to talk to me on that summer day!), the fear of making an obvious mistake that even a first grader wouldn’t do, and the fear of being underestimated and put aside based solely on my accent.

When I started to work with Deloitte, I decided that these fears were silly and were not worth blocking me from achieving my goals. Shifting my perspective, and working in an inclusive culture that embraces diversity, has helped me to lose my fears and move forward in my career.

Deloitte has a unique culture and openness is a central part of it. People at Deloitte, regardless of their rank, are open to differences and appreciate them. At Deloitte, colleagues like to network and learn more about each other. When my co-workers hear my accent for the first time, they are very interested to learn more about my story. It is usually a very good icebreaker and a good way to start the conversation. At Deloitte you shouldn’t be afraid to show your differences because each persons’ unique perspective and background only further contributes to Deloitte’s inclusive culture.

To all of you who work in their second, third or even forth language, be proud of yourself. Be proud of doing something that most people will never have the courage to do. Be proud that you’re overcoming difficulties, fears, and are achieving your goals. Most of all, be proud of your accent it shows your uniqueness and tells your story which is a story that should be told.

Mathieu obtained a Bachelor of Commerce with distinction (B. Comm.) with a specialization in Supply Chain Management at the John Molson School of Business. He is currently a Business Technology Analyst in our Montreal practice.

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