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Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004 01:00 pm

Who needs American workers?


Maybe you're one of the 2 million Americans who've recently had their jobs offshoredto India, Pakistan, or elsewhere, or one of the millions more whose jobs are expected to be shipped abroad in the next few years.

If so, don't worry, Bucko, for a new growth industry has arisen that offers exciting job opportunities. You, too, could become an "American accent and culture trainer." It seems that although such corporations as Citibank, Dell, General Electric, and Microsoft are eager to abandon the United States and move their telephone service jobs abroad, these English-speaking foreign workers are, well, foreign. That means their accents and cultural references can be jarring to U.S. customers placing orders or seeking help.

Therefore, offshoring companies are hiring Americans to teach low-wage foreign replacements how to sound and behave like Americans. Yes, this means you could end up teaching the Indian or Pakistani or Russian who was given your job how to sound like you!

Courses in American Culture 101 include U.S.-history memorization, American slang, basic sports knowledge, and pop culture. Quick: What's the Lone Star State? Who are the Florida Marlins? Can you name one talent that Britney Spears has? What's a burrito? The lesson plans for these courses include watching episodes of Friends and screening such films as Bruce Almighty.

As for accents, there are voice exercises for Indians, for example, to help them lower their natural high-pitched and clipped pronunciation of English.

Of course, it won't be long before the corporations train foreigners to teach American accents and culture to foreign workers. Then there'll be no need for American workers at all.

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