Networking

10 tech skills you should develop during the next five years


This information is also available as a PDF download

If you want a job where you can train in a particular skill set and then never have to learn anything new, IT isn't the field for you. But if you like to be constantly learning new things and developing new skills, you're in the right business. In the late 80s, NetWare and IPX/SPX administration were the skills to have. Today, it's all about TCP/IP and the Internet.

Let's take a look at some of the skills you should be thinking about developing to keep on top of things in the tech world in the next five years.

#1: Voice over IP

Many companies and consumers are already using VoIP for telephone services due to cost and convenience factors. According to a SearchVoIP.com article in June 2007, sales of pure IP PBX systems for the first quarter of 2007 increased 76% over the first quarter of the previous year.

More and more companies are expected to go to VoIP, to either supplement or replace their traditional phone lines. And because VoIP runs on the TCP/IP network, IT administrators will in many cases be expected to take responsibility for VoIP implementation and ongoing administration.

#2: Unified communications

Along with the growing popularity of VoIP, the concept of unified communications -- the convergence of different communications technologies, such as e-mail, voicemail, text messaging, and fax -- looks to be the wave of the future. Users will expect to have access to all their communications from a single interface, such as their Inbox, and from a variety of devices: PCs, laptops, smart phones/PDAs, traditional phones, etc.

Convergence makes networks more complex, and IT administrators will need to develop skills for managing converged networks to compete in tomorrow's job market.

#3: Hybrid networks

The day of the all-Windows or all-UNIX network is already past, and networks are likely to grow more, rather than less hybridized in the future. As new versions of Linux, such as Ubuntu, become friendlier for end users, we're likely to see some organizations deploying it on the desktop for certain users. However, it's likely that other users will continue to use Windows because of application requirements and/or personal preferences, and there may very well be Macintosh users in the mix as well, especially in graphics environments.

IT pros will no longer be able to get by with expertise in only one platform; you'll need to be able to support and troubleshoot different operating systems.

#4: Wireless technology

Wireless networking is still in its infancy in the enterprise. Companies are (often grudgingly) establishing wireless LANs for the use of employees and visitors because it's the most convenient way for portable computers to connect to the network, but many organizations are still wary of wireless (rightly so), particularly its security implications.

But wireless isn't going away, and the future promises faster and more secure wireless technologies. You'll need to know about 802.11n, a new standard now in development and estimated to be released in late 2008, which will provide for a typical throughput of 74 Mbps with a theoretical maximum data rate of 248 Mbps and a longer range than current 802.11a/b/g standards (about 70 meters, or approximately 230 feet).

#5: Remote user support

The trend is toward more employees working off-site: executives taking their laptops on the road, telecommuters working from home at least a few days per week, personnel in the field connecting back to the LAN, and so forth. The IT staff will need to be able to support these remote users while maintaining the security of the internal network.

It will be important to learn skills relating to different VPN technologies (including SSL VPN) and technologies for health monitoring and quarantining of remote clients to prevent those that don't meet minimal criteria (antivirus installed and updated, firewall enabled, etc.) from connecting to the LAN and putting the rest of the network at risk.

#6: Mobile user support

Cell phones, Blackberries, and other ultra-portable devices are becoming ubiquitous and will likely grow more sophisticated in the future. Employees will expect to get their corporate e-mail on their phones and in some cases (such as Windows Mobile devices), to use terminal services client software to connect these small devices to the company LAN.

IT staff members will need to develop a plethora of skills to support mobile users, including expertise in configuration of mail servers and knowledge of security implications of the devices.

#7: Software as a service

Web 2.0, the next generation of the Internet, is all about SaaS, or Software as a Service. SaaS involves delivering applications over the Web, rather than installing those applications on individual users' machines. Some IT pundits have warned that SaaS will do away with IT administrators' jobs entirely, but the more likely scenario is that the job description will change to one with less focus on deployment and maintenance of applications and more emphasis on broader-based planning, convergence, etc.

If SaaS takes off, the job market may also shift so that more jobs are concentrated in the application provider sector rather than in companies' in-house IT departments. In that situation, IT pros who have the skills relating to service provision and multi-tenant architecture will have a head start when it comes to getting and staying employed.

#8: Virtualization

Virtualization has been around for a while, but now, with Microsoft heavily investing in the technology with its Windows hypervisor (Viridian), which will run on Windows Server 2008, VMWare offering VMWare Server for free, and Red Hat and SuSE planning to include Xen hypervisor technology in the next versions of their server products, we can expect the concept of virtual machines to go to a whole new level in the next few years.

Managing a VM-based network environment is a skill that will be not just handy, but essential, as more and more companies look to virtualization to consolidate servers and save on hardware costs.

#9: IPv6

Widespread adoption of the next generation of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) hasn't come about as quickly as originally predicted, in large part because technologies such as NAT prevented the depletion of available IP addresses from happening as soon as anticipated.

However, with the number of hosts on the Internet growing steadily, the larger address space will eventually be critical to further expansion. IPv6 also offers better security with IPsec, a part of the basic protocol suite. Perhaps the inevitability of the transition is best indicated by the fact that Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Mac OS X 10.3, and the latest versions of other operating systems have IPv6 enabled by default.

With an entirely different address notation, called CIDR, and addresses written in hexadecimal instead of the familiar four octets of decimal numbers used by IPv4, there will be a learning curve for IT administrators. The time to tune up your IPv6 skills is now, before the transition becomes mandatory.

#10: Security

Smart IT pros have been developing their security skills for the last several years, but the future will bring new security challenges and new security mechanisms. Technologies such as VoIP and mobile computing bring new security issues and challenges. Authentication methods are evolving from a password-based model to multifactor models, and biometrics are likely to become more important in the future.

As threats become more sophisticated, shifting from teenage hackers defacing Web sites "just for fun" to well financed corporate espionage agents and cyberterrorists bent on bringing down the country's vital infrastructure by attacking the networks that run it, security skills must keep up.

In addition to proactive measures, IT pros will need to know more about computer forensics and be able to track what is happening and has happened on their networks.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

85 comments
vcbitoon
vcbitoon

I have already these 10 skills, I am getting more qualified everyday, when there are requirements soon in your area please let me know or send email direct to me. (vcbitoon@msn.com)

sundarhp
sundarhp

I am afraid you missed one of the hottest skillset on the market - Storage Area Networking & NAS. More and more companies are now moving away from the expensive and cumbersome DAS to SAN/NAS. It is increasingly important for the system engineers and developers alike to understand the implications of networked storage

Joia
Joia

I just came across this post from July and wanted to add a needed skill. Most of you are speaking as technologists, and I am speaking as a business and social user of the technologies. Another tech skill that should be developed is avatar manipulation (maybe there is a better term). Most futurists predict that we will be using bots for highly customized search and retrieval, and avatars for most of our electronic "social" interactive activities in 3-5 years. Not only will inexperienced users need to learn to manipulate and customize their personal avatars, creating a whole new demand on tech support, but technologists will need to learn/understand how this development will change everything from data archiving to learning/training to communities of practice. User demands for support and exceptions to currently established procedures and policies is going to be high (i.e., ports in firewalls, access to "forbidden" sites, seamless global collaboration, etc.), and regulators and lawyers will struggle with finding ways for their IT groups to provide archived records of real time virtual transactions that will be accepted by the courts. Interesting times ahead.

hk565
hk565

these are no SKILLS... thats all technolgies ... commerce and provider bound... this will help you learning to become a hight-tech yes-man aka. slave... good luck

dide
dide

Practically all the comments posted I see here are statements and/or opinions about other issues. There were some excellent posts though that do relate to the article. Nonetheless, I will comment ON the article. I think it is right on the MONEY. This article is Excellent. It provides us IT people with a clear view of what is most likely to happen (and in many cases is already happening) out there in BIG BUSINESS LAND. Very informative. The format is very consistent and easy to understand. Let me say this, this information is not easy to come by so appreciate it GUYS. And for all those posts concerning learning how to write. This article is a PERFECT example on how to write. LET'S USE IT. My English writing skills are not to good either. So I include myself. Needless to say, it would be nice if we all got together and researched all the opportunities that are out there and obtain websites that provide this training and maybe even compile a list of resources that cover those necessary skills so clearly written in this article. We can then share these amongst ourselves and the community. I mean, that's what networks are for aren't they. To Debra LittleJohn Shinder I say BRAVO. Thanks for a Great Heads Up.

chukscorner
chukscorner

well said...easier said than done though

takawirat
takawirat

it seems this was wrtten by someone who only knows networking.... some of the things you could have grouped them toger, like #5 and #6 etc... i rate this POOR....

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

"If we take him out we can get this suspicious file to Panda".

brian_benjamin
brian_benjamin

Any suggestions as to where to pick up these skills quickly?

devin.rambo
devin.rambo

Saas is going to be interesting to watch. Where I work, we're upgrading our core business app, and the clients can use either the desktop-installed software or the web-based version of the app, both of which access the same data. This seems to be becoming more and more standard. Additionally, we're trying to become our own SaaS provider. I'm a Sys Admin, and I have ColdFusion experience. The other Sys Admin and our CIO have ASP experience. We've built a few of our own small web applications in response to the needs of our users, which saves the company money because they aren't having to shell out to a vendor for licenses, support and "software assurance" contracts. I'd even go so far as to say that item 7a might be for admins to develop their coding skills; they're going to come in handy in the long run.

JoeRJr
JoeRJr

Specifically article item 9 - IPv6 Please tell people more "truth", not less, and stop trying to sell people on OS's like Vista and others all the time: To wit, the statement: "Perhaps the inevitability of the transition is best indicated by the fact that Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Mac OS X 10.3, and the latest versions of other operating systems have IPv6 enabled by default." That's mostly truth... how about advising people and all readers that Windows XP SP1 and above support IPv6 very well, indeed. If this fact was a typo oversight, so be it, but the article topic just lends itself to sounding like Win XP SP1 was deliberately shunted aside.

RTHJr
RTHJr

I am finding knowledge of SQL DB Management as a skill lurking about. If you install WSUS or SharePoint, then a flavor of SQL server is required. If you install multifunction copiers that use a Fiery Controller, then SQL server may come with the software to help run its applications. More and more MS SQL is popping up and system administrators have to find how to best manage and even backup such databases.

?L
?L

Very Nice. Although what about the "implementation of social networking" for #11? It is beginning to be used in Biz and Personal use.

jlawrence
jlawrence

VOIP currently has shown horrible voice quality. We looked at the tech., listened as others called in to us and tried to make themselves understood while talking in a garbage can, underwater, and decided to stick with the old tech for a while, thank you. I will wait for future improvements beore deployting VOIP.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Spot on with unified communications and increased hybridizing networks. Although I wouldn't have even listed VOIP separately as I think it rolls into the unified communications prediction. I'd also roll the mobile user support into the wireless category; they kind of go hand in hand. Wireless may continue to increase, but wired networking will never stop. There are too many places, especially in manufacturing industries, where the E-M environment causes too much interference for wireless; as well as a lot of building infrastructure which stops signals dead. And that doesn't even touch security requirements that may preclude broadcast signals of critical, confidential, or classified information, no matter how well encrypted. Remote user support has a long way to go. Too many managers are, well, control freaks, and refuse to allow it, even though it may be a viable alternative (not that they'll ever read, much less agree, with this comment). Software as a service is a limited niche, at least in the United States. Communications and power infrastructure still are too vulnerable to disruption for most companies to entrust critical success factor software to a third party; especially for businesses with a low profit margin that a week of downtime during a year could mean life or death of the company. Considering the disruptions caused by floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and winter storms, and SaaS suddenly doesn't look so bright and rosey. And before you retort that the business itself is also destroyed by the disaster, let me tell you that many businesses are just fine with backup generators and standalone software and internal networks; they just don't have exteriorly supplied power and communications are reduced to poor quality voice either via cell, or old wired connections. Network Administrators/Engineers will definately need to add virtual machine management to their skill sets. IP6 seems to be a given. And the need for security specialists will never die.

gandolfo
gandolfo

RE: 10 tech skills you should develop during the next five years These are not skills. They are technologies or products which you could learn something about, but this knowledge could also be obsolete after five years. Useful tech skills for the next five years could be adapting to changes, marketing your abilities, communicating with managers and end-users, etc. There are many more general skills for the next five years such as learning to live in a hovel, coping with being laid off, building a new business, and so on. Graham

Marty the Borg
Marty the Borg

Excellent critique! The not using capital letters, and non standard spelling to save time is brilliant. I rate this as OK! Now, write your own article so we can grade you.

Fatboy0341
Fatboy0341

After 6 years in the Marine Corps Infantry, some of us are already good to go as far as weapons training. :)

chasbrey
chasbrey

If there was only one single way to upgrade a skill set, but the matrix isn't here and we can't upload. I'm just focusing on a couple areas that I feel are inter-related like security, converged networks and IPv6. From there it's the old fashion way, lots of reading and time in the test lab. Well, it's time to warm up the web browser and hone my Googling skills...

ElGoliath
ElGoliath

The author never stated that XP didn't support IPv6, it was only said that those OS' listed had it enabled by default, which last time I checked XP does not.

timilehin2g
timilehin2g

In the IT field especially as a systems administrator, systems administration is becoming more varse with the introduction of lots of technologies. One important skill and the most important is the willingness to learn the new ones

j2will
j2will

I have been working with VoIP for about 6 months now and find it to be a much better product that what the local telco provides. The problems that I have encountered when using it is when the Internet traffic is passed to a router that has marginal or substandard performance. At that point there is ususally a large amount of lost packets and wild fluctuations in response times which distroys the QoS for the link. Unfortuneately, how your traffic is routed is not a controlable variable. I have also experienced some problems with some other VoIP carriers that have an excessive amount of call rejections due to all lines in use. That is a lack of planning or incentive to properly service their customers. I guess the secret to good VoIP service is to find a reputable dealer and get then apply due diligence in verifying their reoutation is real or hyped. I believe that as competition grows in this area, the poor performers will drop by the wayside, the quality on most circuits will dramatically improve, and technology will provide for better recovery from poor QoS. Somewhere in the mix, the government will step in add additional taxes, costs will soar, and there will be less distinction or incentive for people to use VoIP.

Jacolex
Jacolex

Edited Message was edited by: beth.blakely@...

letapia
letapia

Guess I heard the same about VHS. It sucked compared to Betamax. But ... in the end we all live with it ... you better listen pal ...

devin.rambo
devin.rambo

We had a similar problem when we tried out a test implementation of VOIP in one of our branch offices. Calling internally wasn't bad, but calls outside the office sounded very bad. Turns out it had something to do with the old copper lines on the other side of the PBX; for some reason that was never really satisfactorily explained, the old copper didn't really agree with the Cisco system we were test driving. It might be worth it to you to have your phone guy come out and look at what's on the other side of your PBX; it might very well be a problem with your wiring. For us, it wasn't worth it to try and have all the copper upgraded, but YMMV.

jcbel
jcbel

The company I previously worked for used VOIP (and integrated VOIP for other companies) and experienced few problems with it - and even then it was mostly due to failures on the service provider's side of things. It is not a plug and play technology but it does work well when done correctly.

mohdmujd
mohdmujd

Great Article and great website hope to all a good luck

Nodisalsi
Nodisalsi

I believe this will be useful to break the paranoia that technophobes typically experience. In spite of a whole generation IT's prevalence in busienss, many new and old users still resist change for no better reason than they are too scared to drive new technology. It's also useful for encouraging conservative managers to adopt new technology against the grain of well-established operational habits; new ideas will need to be *sold* to them.

Big Ole Jack
Big Ole Jack

I guess the H1-Bs' are disqualified from this one...LOL.

apotheon
apotheon

On the other hand, user support and security are not products or technologies. They're mindsets -- mindsets it would be good to learn if you are not already familiar with them. I discuss matters related to how to approach security -- [b]not[/b] as a product or one-time technology "solution" -- quite a bit in TechRepublic's IT Security weblog. I maintain an off-site [url=http://apotheon.com/pub/]list of my published articles[/url] there. A case-insensitive text search on that page for the word "security" should provide a few items that go into some detail on the subject.

Uncle Red Dog
Uncle Red Dog

yes, I hear Microsoft is currently seeking your skillset - there are still a few pesky "builders of better mousetraps" out there to be dealt with. Ah, the Ages of Empire ... what would we do for entertainment otherwise ... BTW ... I'm curious ... did you do any real time in the Gulf or AfCanadastan?

techrepublic
techrepublic

In the beginning days of consumer video recording, most buyers wanted time and not quality. Sony misjudged the market badly with a maximum play time of 1-2 hours. VHS, with its 4-6 hours, could record an entire baseball or football game as well as a feature length movie (with commercials). That was the most important market factor at work in those days of budding home video. What Sony forgot was that in order to assign value, as in statements such as better or worse, one must ask two questions: (1) Of value to whom? (2) And for what purpose? VHS ultimately was "better" than Betamax, meaning it satisfied the most customers, which is why it won out. We don't just "live with it." It was better in the beginning for what the vast majority of us wanted. And later, with the cash they generated from tremendous sales, they improved the quality, too. Sony, unfortunately, got the order of market delivery WRONG and that's why they, and Betamax, lost out. Most geek-types miss this lesson. They focus on what turns them on and don't take an objective assessment of who will use their product and why. Some don't even want to learn it; they feel comfortable that their knowledge of how putting this bit here is "inherently better" than over there and that's the world they stay in. (To wit, the seemingly never-ending Microsoft Windows versus "insert your religious preference here" wars). But it's still a lesson to be learned nonetheless--for whole companies like Sony. For even a solo short-term product designer or project manager. The most successful of them never, ever, EVER forget to ask those two questions: Of value to WHOM? and, For what PURPOSE?

RFguy
RFguy

I agree that POTS lines as installed a decade or more ago may not be up to becoming part of a VOIP network, despite the cost of dumping it in favor of certified Cat-5+ lines. Common phone line line practices such as bridge taps, inadequate cable twist, and bad connectors that were transparent (mostly) to baseband audio will be deadly to digital modes that need stable impedance, low-noise connections and low crosstalk. Also consider liability angles. Do you want to be responsible for the reliable access of users to 911 and other emergency phone traffic over your IP network? I don't -- at least not for our networks.

doytoy
doytoy

It would help if the people doing the selling could communicate with those expected to buy.

crcanassr
crcanassr

This is funny. This lady actually had a guy from Scotia on the phone for tech support, and after a few minutes she complained that she could barely understood his "indian accent", and asked to talk to his supervisor, a guy from Liverpool, whom she could not understand either. After a few minutes she complained again about the "chinese on the phone". Go figure....

crcanassr
crcanassr

This is funny. This lady actually had a guy from Scotia on the phone for tech support, and after a few minutes she complained that she could barely understood his "indian accent", and asked to talk to his supervisor, a guy from Liverpool, whom she could not understand either. After a few minutes she complained again about the "chinese on the phone". Go figure....

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

Perish the thought that someone working for an English speaking company actually speak English. The next thing you know, you'll want someone who actually has real experience and not someone who went through a six-week crash course on a particular technology

wtotten1
wtotten1

Let's see, "how's" must mean "how is". Therefore, your subject line "How's about excellent written and verbal communication skills in English?" would extrapolate to "How is about excellent written and verbal communication skills in English?" Seems ironic, doesn't it?

zientak27
zientak27

You have hit the nail on the head!!!

jerken
jerken

Since you?re on this subject. My brother-in-law is from Italy, he has lived here in the US for over twenty years, and he still has an accent that is so strong you can barely understand him. I asked him about this and he said it was because of the area of Italy that his is from. I said ?but I can imitate your accent why can?t you imitate a Californian accent?? He still isn?t trying, still hard to understand.

vsutherland
vsutherland

As a technical writer it never ceases to amaze me how poorly the English language is spoken, and written, these days. The e-mails and other documents that I see each day astound me with their lack of proper spelling and the use of horrible grammar. Even executives seem to have lost the ability, or interest, in speaking or writing the language correctly. Personally, I see any language as a wonderful gift and pleasure, something to be honored, shared and developed. However, it now appears that language skills are insignificant, particularly in written form. And that, that is indeed a shame for everyone, regardless of their native tongue. I read recently that most schools in the United States no longer teach penmanship, causing the art of writing in cursive to become a dying art. The majority of college students now answer their college entrance exam essays using block letters, leaving only their signature to be written in cursive. Both skills seem to be a dying art and a loss, and shame, for us all.

vijayaraghavan_g
vijayaraghavan_g

I can assure you that quite a few foreigners can read/write/speak correct English as fluently as those whose mother tongue is English, though perhaps with an accent.

jon_junker
jon_junker

It's too bad that the subject line for this post was misspelled! :-)

~Atheria
~Atheria

Why learn English? India has no reason to they have our jobs. China certainly has no reason to, they just make the crap we won't pay decent money for... English skills are great, but I have heard more and more BAD english even here from "customer support" - everything from my cable company, to my electric company to my trash company. AWFUL. And it's only going to get worse as American education becomes more watered down and teachers are forced to give "decent" grades to students to do absolutely nothing. How do I know the last sentence is true? My husband is a teacher and I worked (seriously past tense!) as a sub for teachers. It's BAD out there and if WE all don't do something about it soon, none of our children are going to have anything more than a Mickey D or Wally World job to look forward to as a "career". Yeah, just a bit of exaggeration, but we're seriously hurting here! There are THOUSANDS of jobs in every state going wanting because there aren't enough "tech" people and yet company after company is outsourcing the little stuff and working their way up. Do you know when it started? Y2K. And it's been downhill ever since. Unless we all start making some noise against outsourcing and paying for better education and better administrators for our high and middle schools, we're going to be out of luck in about, oh, I'd say 7 years! So again, why does anyone have to be literate? I think it's paramout that we are. Nothing fragments more than a lack of common language.

Fatboy0341
Fatboy0341

Couldn't have said it better myself. BTW Jack...I'm right up the road in Norwalk...used to work for Monster when we had the 16th floor at 50 Main Street in White Plains (the old Heineken HQ offices).

Uncle Red Dog
Uncle Red Dog

It is a reference used often in Canada to reference the fact that Canadian troops are doing much of the heavy lifting in Afghanistan, and are a key part of the occupying force. It is, I suppose, a similar concept to someone referring to Iraq as the "51st state" or some similar reference to someone wondering "why are we there in the first place and what is our objective - how will will know if/when the military objective has been achieved or not if we don't know what the objective is'?.

rob mekel
rob mekel

Are you not forgetting something TT ... your northern neibours do move over the world and sometimes ... end up in Ireland Does make you think, yeah you're right on that one :) :x Rob

Tig2
Tig2

We started it and left it to the Canadians so that we could proceed with Iraq. Makes you think, don't it?

Shellbot
Shellbot

whats the meaning of the refernece to : AfCanadastan ? Not being silly or rude..just curious..

Fatboy0341
Fatboy0341

I spent some time in Kuwait up in the DMZ back in 1994 or so...just doing patrols and some "force in readiness" type stuff to keep Saddam in his place. Almost signed back up in 2001 after 9/11 but decided to leave it up to the new breed of warriors...even though I'm jealous as hell and would like to have had a few cracks at Iraq and Afghanistan (and before anyone flames me for that - it's a warrior thing - I don't expect you to understand). Tough sitting on the sidelines when you train that hard at a job and then get to watch from the bench. Aside from Jiu-Jitsu/MMA training and competitions, my life is pretty "normal" nowadays.

kpschmidt1
kpschmidt1

I always have a slight chuckle whenever I hear the old story about Sony's Beta losing to VHS. It is akin to Apple/Mac "losing" to the PC. The humor is: in the age CD's, DVD's & HD-DVD's; whenever you see that TV-station van cameraman with that huge camera on his shoulder - chances are it is recording on Beta. Apparently, like the Mac, the Beta fell into a niche market (commercial video recording/editing) which was not in everone's living room.

Answerfactory
Answerfactory

When I have lived or visited other countries, I pick up their language and their accents. Usually it takes me about a month after I return home to lose it. People continuously ask me where I am from during that period. And I reply "I'm from here!" . "But you have an accent?" "I do?" It's funny.

ldehaan9
ldehaan9

as a West Indian (Guyanese to be precise) I can relate very well to the comments posted by those with heavy accents, having one myself, and it's generally the fate of those who migrate as adult. Additionally, West Indians usually speak very quickly, and it requires practice to pace your speech delivery to enhance understanding, even if your speech isn't very accented. Sometimes, though, when I get caught up in a situation I unconsciously revert to the bullet-train delivery, but generally segue into a "what I mean to say ..." save, which works most of the time :-). Thankfully, I've learnt to slow things down enough to make myself understood right off the bat about 95% of the time. Having an unconsciously good knowledge of English is clearly an asset too, but the standard is definitely slipping and I shudder to think what business communication is going to look like 20 years from now.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

My family came over from Germany and they all killed their accents as quickly as they could because they wanted to be understood. Kudos to you for your efforts! We need more people like you!

crcanassr
crcanassr

I have lived in the US for 27 years and have graduated from US universities. Originally I am from Latin America. Over the years I have tried to correct my accent, even attended special therapy classes to no avail. Now I know that I will never lose my accent, as most adults that learn a second language do. Anyway, most people I deal with understand me clearly, as clearly as I understand them, an except for a few words that I alway dread to pronounce(sheet is an example), most of my English is acceptable. My point is that accents can be smoothed if not lost, one makes an effort at it.

jasondteck
jasondteck

Some years ago my firm employed a young Irish man who had worked very hard, and successfully, to achieve a neutral accent. You would be unlikely to discern where he came from. Until the day that over the walls of his cubicle came an Irish accent so thick that you could slice it with a knife. He had just answered a phone call from his mother.

finmedmgr
finmedmgr

I was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley of California. Most people don't know, but it used to be very much a cowboy town and we had very thick accents (drawl). One day when I was 22 and just landed a job for the government in Phoenix, Az. I mentioned that I had to get home to do the wash. The older supervisor I was talking to asked me where I was from and I said Los Angeles (Los Angeleeze). She said I had the thickest drawl she had ever heard and thought I was from the Deep South. I was shocked. We wrote out what I had said phonetically. It sounded like this: "ah neeeed ta gow hume nd du theee warsh". I learned my lesson, straightened up my enunciation. Now no one can guess where I am from because I have no accent anymore and that is fine with me. I owe my thanks to Mr. Webster for including enunciation in the dictionaries, they were free lessons. Thanks for shraring your experience with us and there is always some hope.

finmedmgr
finmedmgr

Saved us from the Barbarians, don't you think?

Tig2
Tig2

I love calligraphy and the opportunity it affords to be creative within a restricted form. We may be old farts but we're not dead yet. Our passion for our art form will continue. Do you also enjoy illumination?

finmedmgr
finmedmgr

That would be truly sad if it happens. I am an artist also and I enjoy writing in cursive but love calligraphy. I could sense that calligraphy is almost a dying form of artful writing but I hadn't thought about cursive being a dying art.

Master G
Master G

I had envy so many people in the street for knowing at least how to say a whole sentence ten years ago. However, as time had passed I came to learn the language near as perfect in only a few years. To apply it to corporations, I can see that the lack of proper grammar, pronunciation and accent are murdering the English language. Big corporations just care about hiring someone that can complete a job without communicating a lot. From customer service to programmers and engineers. I've been struggling to understand a simple presentation for a new software application - it's taking my time to do an extra research because I couldn't understand what she/he was saying. Blame the Big Corp. for not looking at standards before hiring someone with some speech issues ( i.e. The Bell Phone Company)

technochic64
technochic64

The problem does not always lie in the accent alone. Case in point: Our company made a call to Microsoft concerning one of our servers recently. The man our tech talked to had a heavy accent, BUT she could understand his WORDS just fine. It was his method of commuicating his IDEAS that she could not understand. For instance, he told her to copy some files to a floppy and boot to the floppy. She asked him 4 times if he meant boot from the floppy with just those files? He confirmed repeatedly that he did. Well she knew full well that unless that floppy had system files it would not boot, yet the MS tech insisted it would. So she tried it at his insistence and of course it failed. That and many more things he told her were wrong, but he could not COMMUNICATE in such a way as to have his IDEAS understood. The call became so frustrating she finally gave up and did a reinstall of the server as it took far less time than the time wasted on the phone. Her review of the call made clear to MS that he was not difficult to understand ENGLISH-wise, but he could not communicate his IDEAS and that was something that would take far longer than a few English classes to correct.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I've worked with plenty of indians who have MADE THE EFFORT to slow down their speech and correct the accent. Yes it takes work, as does anything worthwhile. I am hearing impaired, as are many individuals, and as the population ages, more will be. I can tell you from firsthand experience that an accent raises the difficulty of understanding someone by an order of magnitude. When I worked for a previous employer, our c++ programmer gave her two weeks notice. thick chinese accent + hearing impaired coworker = not a very good knowledge transfer. Neither I, nor anyone else with a hearing impairment can change how we hear. Someone with an accent CAN change that aspect of themselves.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

especially to one with a hearing impairment.

Tig2
Tig2

In my opinion, the place that Americans miss the mark is in making an effort to develop any sense of unified cultural understanding. I work, and have worked with, many Indians- many of whom I am proud to consider friends. But getting there took work on both our parts. I needed to be open to their culture, they needed to be open to mine. I find that we get through that most effectively with open communication and acceptance. In general, I am correct. It is very easy to latch on to the few less professional that are in the US job market and ignore the professionals who communicate easily, are open to our requirements, are willing to communicate theirs, and generally make the process of working as a team easier. Your point is well made.

kable08
kable08

I agree with you there. Except that it does help if those answering the phones are made to undergo a little bit more of training on the accent and inflection side of English. I am a Filipino, and I also speak English with a Filipino accent, and I thought I spoke good English until I came here and found out that what was reasonably understood in my country was not necessarily understood here. For example, the word "associate" in my country is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable (sp ?), and I found out that here it is on the second syllable. I recently called for help on my dell computer and got somebody from China, and being Asian, I understood MOST of what she was saying. Now, think of an American from Louisiana or Mississipi talking with that rep from China and you will get an idea of the frustrations that come up on both sides. (Oh, by the way, I personally love listening to English spoken with those soft sounding southern twangs).

finmedmgr
finmedmgr

I don't know you, you may have a minimal accent. I had been dealing with Quest, MSN, and several other organizations regarding some anomalies the past week and every one I have talked to with the exception of 2Wire and Internet Explorer 7, has had heavy Indian accents. Companies should at least allow the caller to transfer to someone with little to no accent if the caller requests it. I did ask, but they refused to hand over the call. It was like trying to speak to someone in a foreign language and we had heated conversations out of frustration, I had to repeat myself so many times I was getting irate, they were wasting my time and minutes on my cell phone due to their inefficiencies. I realized after I logged off that I vented some of that frustration onto you. There is a true story you may want to think about regarding accents from a conversation farther down the forum. Also, if people can't get past an accent, they are not listening to you and your ID says you are a consultant, I would think that you would want them to hear every word you say. I have friends from India and Pershia who have very slight accents and we communicate just fine. Good luck to all of us.

finmedmgr
finmedmgr

Regardless of a person's intelligence, it makes one appear to be just the opposite. If native born U.S. citizens go into public communications, one of the first things they need to do is to lose their local accents (even if they have to go to training to do it), especially those from certain southern states and east coast locations that have thick or heavy accents. If it is good enough for natives, it is good enough for foreigners. If you deal with users and oustide businesses, you are publicly speaking and in the same boat as natives are.

richard
richard

The Americas cover North and South America. You are offensive to all the other countries when you describe your languagea American. In the US, English speakers speak US English.

tony
tony

When you quote unnecessary schedule for a development then you are making way for outsourcing, Or when refuse to spend some extra hours in the evenings or in the weekends when the project is busy, managers will think of outsourcing ....

apotheon
apotheon

If not for the difference of a single letter in your little rant, and the fact you identify yourself as such in several ways, I would not have been able to guess from your writing that you weren't a citizen of the US. It looks like the same language to me.

chasbrey
chasbrey

Wow, I hope you found that cathartic. Personally I hope to avoid the transition to any form of Chinese, since I had enough problems learning the 'qwerty' keyboard. When interfacing with users, I'd rather remain a dedicated user of Microsoft-English. It's simplistic enough that I can talk (most) of my users through pointing and clicking their way out of (most) of the issues they encounter. I have attempted using Cisco-ese with some of them but their train of thought becomes derailed long before we get to Switch#.

spiyda
spiyda

Ignoring the fact that one can walk into a Macdonalds in Georgia and the only language spoken is Spanish, I protest at the use of the term English when used to describe the language spoken and just as importantly written by Americans. At the very least it is one or more dialects, and as far as spelling is concerned, surely a different language. It's American for goodness sake! I am not a linguist, I have no higher qualifications in Languages and I know my punctuation can be somewhat ropey at times, but as an Englishman, educated at an English Grammar School and English Universities I know pretty much how to speak and write English. As a Software Consultant working daily with multi-language software I can assure you that the language used by Americans (Citizens of the USA to be more specific) is not the English that I was taught. I have to mentally switch from English English to US English when working with people or software from across the pond. The problem is a historical one of course, and no doubt a linguist would be able to tell us how US English is closer to the English used by the Pigrim Fathers. To be honest though, I don't care what language the Pilgrim Fathers used, I do care however about the erosion of the language of Keats, Wordsworth and even Tolkein. I already have to remember the stupid spelling differences and how more annoying can it get than the current trend of dropping English English localisation from many software packages, leaving the only English option as English (US). I suppose my frustration is compounded by the political situation here in England. As the only part of the United Kingdom not to have it's own assembly (Parliament). The Scots, have the Scottish Parliament to represent them, The Welsh have the Welsh Assembly, The Northern Irish have their assembly, but we English have no similar structure, English people are represented only in the Parliament in London which we share with Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland. Currently the UK Prime minister is a Scot. I have some sympathy for the Spanish (No... I take that back) Having worked on a project in Mexico, I now understand the difference between Spanish Spanish and Latin Spanish (who thought that one up ?) but my sympathy waned when I remembered the Spanish have more than one Language (Catalan) ... The Italians don't speak Latin, they speak Italian ! I know there's no answer to all this, except to suggest that we all learn Mandarin Chinese as that will be the predominant language when Global Warming has raised sea levels by a few metres. .

julio
julio

Kuala Lumpur is now taking jobs from the Bangalorians, and now China is in the race. India has become expensive; everything including realestate has gone up over there and now they are starting to charge equivalent to the US...... So why learn english, if we want a job we are going to have to learn to speak, Bangalorian or Indo-Chinese. I'm out.

fcar100573
fcar100573

A language should constantly be evolving by the invention of new words or the inclusion of ?foreign? words that explain a new concept/object, just as you did in your discussion by including the words ?Y2K? and ?Yeah?. The English people of the Britain 500 years ago would probably not understand today?s ?English?. Just as they would not have been understood by the European who formed the English language roots 1000 years ago. This evolution is also reflected in the removal of archaic spellings of words, such as: - Colour (UK English) to Color (US English). All beneficial to progress and understanding To get to the point, the words may change but the structure MUST stay the same. This is where I am worried, especially when you wrote ? ?none of our children are going to have anything more than a Mickey D or Wally World job to look forward to as a "career". I believe I understand you message but should it have been:- ?our children will have no more than a Mickey D or???? The difference in interpretation is immense. It shows its ugly head through translation into other languages, English/French, and now more relevant English/Chinese. Yet we are having a problem within one ?language?. Please understand I am not attempting to be offensive.

art
art

"Atheria"'s post was full of grammatical sludge. It's been 40-50 years since American students were taught grammar. I would say that most of the native born population is unable to construct a clear, readable paragraph.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

In fact, there was a thread going on about it for a while. I am a stickler because I have a hard time hearing people as it is. Translating the gibberish that comes out of people these days is an added effort I don't need to expend. By gibberish, I mean either heavily accented English or the massacre of it by native speakers.

crcanassr
crcanassr

I have lived in the US for the past 27 years, and I am a graduate of US universities. It is amazing how many people in this country want the English Language to be the official state language, yet they don't complain about the poor English Language skills of many of US citizens. When you have people with at least a high school education, incapable to read and understand the simple questions on a job application then you have a problem. Forget the chinese, indians, etc., at least they make an effort to speak the language. Just listen to the last rapp CD as an example of how the English Language is being trampled every day in this country.

jerken
jerken

I have a theory about our dwindling education system here in America. The government (whoever is in the Whitehouse (Rep or Dem), our Representatives and Senators) love their positions. They have looked at the way that dictators run their counties and figured out that it is a lot easier to keep them selves elected if the people are dumb and uneducated. So out government has been slowly working the system to make the people in this country some of the dumbest people on the planet. If they did it quickly there would be outcry from the voters, so slow is the trick. Another aspect of this ignorance is we the people will think that it is normal for our representatives and senators to get most of their paycheck from lobbyist.

geekworlds
geekworlds

The company I work for just hired a bunch of interns...most of them from India. In my opinion they don't even try to speak correct English. I don't see anything wrong with making a buck, but U. S. corportations have the responsibility to give jobs to it's citizens.