Why is the pronunciation important?
Why is pronunciation (almost the most) important when working in an English language environment?
The way we speak immediately conveys something about ourselves to the people around us. Learners with good pronunciation in English are more likely to be understood even if they make errors in other areas, whereas learners whose pronunciation is difficult to understand will not be understood, even if their grammar is perfect! Such learners may avoid speaking in English, and thus experience social isolation, employment difficulties and limited opportunities for further study, which may affect their settlement in [the target country]. We also often judge people by the way they speak, and so learners with poor pronunciation may be judged as incompetent, uneducated or lacking in knowledge, even though listeners are only reacting to their pronunciation. Yet many adult learners find pronunciation one of the most difficult aspects of English to acquire, and need explicit help from the teacher (Morley 1994; Fraser 2000).
The importance of good pronunciation is further emphasized in a study conducted by the University of Nevada on how well healthcare workers [nurses] were received by patients and colleagues in an American hospital. One of the main conclusions was that after a 10 week intervention, in the form of an accent reduction course, the linguistic gap between staff from non-English and English speaking countries was narrowed significantly. (Lay J. Shen, Yu Xu, Anne L. Bolstad, Margaret Covelli, Miriam Torpey, Roseann Colosimo: 2012)
In other words, the staff participating in the pronunciation course were much better received by colleagues even though the course had no specific vocabulary or grammar focus.
This illustrates very well that people are perceived to have a higher level of English if they have better pronunciation. Obviously, this is a fact that must be considered when preparing for a language exam or for a job interview, but one of the most important findings of the study was that patient experience and outcomes may be considerably influenced by communication effectiveness largely determined by correct pronunciation.