Minh was born in Vietnam and came to the United States when he was just 12 years old. A straight-A student in Vietnam, Minh describes himself as an “ambitious guy” and a go-getter. Since coming to the United States, he’s been a student at GRCC and GVSU, a manager at Walgreens, and an international businessman. He is now a Quality Supervisor at Praxis Packaging Solutions in Grand Rapids.
The path to his current role at Praxis took some time. Minh started in the Production Control department before applying for an accounting supervisor position. At that point, his work ethic was evident, and it caught the attention of Praxis’ CEO, Rick King. The only barrier inhibiting Minh’s career path? His English language skills.
The CEO told his ambitious employee, “If I were to send you out to talk to my customer, they’re not going to understand you well.” But the story does not end there. King saw to it that Minh found a program that would help him improve his English.
And so began Minh’s Accent Modification work with the Literacy Center of West Michigan. Minh received 21 hours of one-on-one instruction with Christy Dam, a Literacy Center instructor trained to conduct accent modification.
During his sessions, Minh worked hard to pronounce letter sounds that most English speakers take for granted like the double-T sound in the word “little” and the hard R sound in “hammer.” Minh practiced religiously throughout the day, even reading to his wife each night just so he could feel the way he was pronouncing each word. “I used to hate reading. I thought reading is a waste of time. [Now I] feel weird going to bed without reading.”
All of Minh’s work paid off. He was promoted to Quality Supervisor on April 16, 2018. Most importantly, the CEO told Minh that he noticed his speech improved and that he was making great progress.
Minh says about his experience, “As I advance in my career path, I don’t think I would be able to get where I am today without [Accent Modification]. As you get higher in anywhere you go, you’ve got to be able to express your ideas, you’ve got to be able to communicate effectively to your group, and you need to be able to give good directions. I feel a lot more confident now than I [felt] two years ago.”
Individuals or companies interested in learning more about the Literacy Center’s accent modification program can contact Chad Patton, Director of Customized Workplace English, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 459-5151.