Jean Piaget was the first to use the term ‘accommodation’ in Psychology to refer to the process of unlearning or ignoring the schemas to be able to process new information or approach new experience. In other words, one has to revisit the personal notions or set of beliefs one carries and modify them if necessary to perceive things more clearly. One’s past experience sometimes works as a hindrance when one approaches a stimulus one is not acquainted with and it does not let one respond to the given stimulus objectively. Therefore, one has to be willingly ready to correct an earlier notion or perception in order to validate the present stimuli or new realities. Accommodation is a difficult process since it is very unnatural to re-evaluate established ideas and age-old beliefs and reject them in favour of almost contradictory ideas and beliefs.
Thus, the process of accommodation attempts a complete change or alteration of an individual’s existing schema. A person who is thrown into a new culture often finds it utterly difficult to accommodate as the new culture has opposing traditions and practices. Failing to accommodate, in such circumstances, often leads to identity crisis where as learning to accommodate ensures growth.
It is important to define Accommodation as it is often confused with the process of Assimilation. While both are necessary for Adaptation, there is a thin line of difference between the two. In the process of assimilation, one does not need to modify one’s schemas but incorporate new learning. For example, a student’s organized knowledge of five vowels and 21 consonants in the English alphabet is not modified when they are told that there are 20 vowels and 24 consonants in English phonetics, because they recognize that letters are different from sounds. This becomes an easy addition to the existing stock of information. However, a non-native speaker of the English language suffers from MTI or Mother Tongue Influence as they have to unlearn most of the sounds and syntactic patterns in order to relearn the correct sunds. For example, most Friction consonants in English such as ‘f’, ‘v’, etcetera, have similar counterparts in many other languages where they are Stop consonants making it a difficult job for the speakers of those languages to utter these consonants properly and they end up pronouncing these consonants the way they do in their mother tongue. Only if they go through the difficult process of Accommodation and revise their existing knowledge base, can they pronounce these sounds correctly.