The daughter of an immigrant, Jennifer Madigan grew up translating for people who spoke with her dad, who moved to Canada in 1970 when he was 28 years old. It wasn’t that Madigan’s father didn’t speak much English. In fact, he was fluent in the language and had previously worked as a draftsman for the US Army. The problem, as Madigan realized from an early age, wasn’t an English language issue but a pronunciation issue – no one could understand her dad, even when he was speaking English, due to his thick accent. Like many immigrants, Madigan’s father graduated from university and was an internationally trained professional. However, because of his accent, he had to work “survival jobs” and was denied advanced employment.
Seeing her dad’s struggles motivated Madigan to find a way to help other immigrants reduce their accent and speak clearer. She went on to study linguistics and speech pathology and subsequently acquired a master’s degree in education. In May of 2008, she opened L2 Accent Reduction Centre in Vancouver to address the growing communication needs of the city’s multicultural workforce, which is partly composed of skilled immigrants who are either underemployed or stuck at an entry level position. For the past five years, Madigan and her team have worked tirelessly to help competent professionals improve their job situation.
Moreover, L2 Accent Reduction Centre advocates diversity in the workplace; hence, the company supports immigrants in its community by volunteering at several immigrants services organizations such as Multicultural Helping House, SUCCESS, and Arrive BC. Madigan has also created the Fresh Start Program, which offers free English support to single immigrant parents.
In 2011, L2 Accent Reduction Centre received the Cultural DIVERSEcity Award in the small business category from the DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society. Last year, the company was a nominee for the Best Community Impact Award at Small Business BC’s Successful You Awards.