For such a small country, the British Isles has an incredible variety of accents and dialects. It’s amazing how different we sound considering we speak the same language. If you are looking to expand your repertoire of British accents, or any accent for that matter, here’s my advice to you – improvise and have fun experimenting with your target accent.

Accent Improvisation Exercise

(1) Imagine your ‘character’: every accent has a life of it’s own. When you imagine the accent you are trying to learn in your mind’s eye, who is it speaking to you? Is the person young or old and what are their likes and dislikes? Let your imagination run wild and start speaking in the accent, imagining yourself as the character.

(2) Accent-specific vocabulary: does the accent you want to learn have any original greetings or slang that the people use? For example, someone from Birmingham would say, ‘Alright our bab?’ as a hello. When you are speaking in your accent be sure to include as much of its original vocabulary, idioms or expressions as possible because this is what gives each accent it’s particular flavour.

(3) Engage your ears: if you are practising a new accent, it helps to do a little research before you get practising as it makes the accent much easier to switch into. Can you think of any famous people who speak in the accent you wish to learn? Do a quick internet search for your famous person or target accent and simply listen to the accent as it is being spoken. Really engage your ears as you listen. What stands out about the way words are pronounced? Are any sounds in particular missing? For example, if you’re listening to the Cockney accent, /h/ will be dropped from the beginnings of words such as ‘hard’. By truly listening to an accent you don’t have to be an expert on the phonology of language.

(4) Get Improvising: learning accents should be fun! Play around with your new accent and have fun saying random things. If you can get a friend to speak in the accent with you, do a character roleplay and say whatever comes to mind.

(5) Record Yourself: Of course you want to know how you sound when speaking in your new accent: that’s why you have to record yourself. When you play back your speech in your new accent take a constructive approach. What words and phrases do you say well in the new accent? Are there any key sounds in particular where you slipped up or made errors consistently? With this knowledge in mind, you can focus your training and practice on mastering the tricky sounds.

(5) Get Help with Your Accent Training: For any accent you are working to master, a little expert training goes a long way. Check out my Clear Accent course if you’re looking to improve your accent or learn the standard pronunciations.

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Author

Jade Joddle is a speech and voice teacher for high-level professionals. She teaches her non-native speaker clients to Speak Well so that they thrive and succeed.

6 Comments

  1. Hello, I am from Indonesia. And I like watch your videos on YouTube ^^ by the way, may I know what kind of British accent do you speak? 🙂 and I have a friend that is from Dorchester, he said that Scottish is the hardest accent in the UK, is it right? Or is there another accent that is harder than Scottish?

  2. Hyomin Kim Reply

    Hello~! Jade^^
    I am Korean and I am learning English^^
    I’ve been watching your accent youtubes.
    I like british accent very much^^
    and I think I have a south east accent which people call it ‘posh’ XD
    However, I like Zoella’s accent because her accent makes me happy^^
    so you think it’s okay to speak like her?

      • Hyomin Kim Reply

        Ah~~ thank you so much ^^
        Actually, I’m very pleased with your comment, because I really like your Youtubes and these youtubes have helped me so much with learning English!
        And I don’t attend school because I’m homeschooled^^ (my age is 16 )
        My dream is to be a writer ( a novelist! ) , and I really want to write in English!
        That’s my goal 🙂
        Also, I like British accent, because most of the actors and writers I like are British!!

        Anyway, I really like your youtubes!!!!! I just wanna say this^^
        Thank you^^

        • You’re already doing great writing in English. Also I think homeschooling is great because it teaches you how to teach yourself! That’s what I have always done. 🙂

      • Hyomin Kim Reply

        Ah~^^ thank yoooou^^
        Actually, there are lot of worries about my homeschooling because here Korea, most of the people think I must go to school 🙁
        Hmmm, I hope this is not bothering you ;^^
        Because I really want to say this.

        The Korean education system is not good, to be honest, I think it’s awful.
        So many students study very hard but what is sad is most of them don’t know what they want or what they want to be.
        They just study to get a high score and go to the university.
        Then, get a job like a big company or want to be an offcial because they think it’s a safe job.
        So I don’t want to be a slave like that, I have chosen homeschooling which I was lucky 🙂
        So yeah, that’s what I wanted to say to you ^^

        Anyway, so I’ve been studying English by myself and the British accent as well which I am proud of it 🙂
        Because , I communicate with English people through an app called ‘Hellotalk’
        and the British friends I’ve chatted through this app said my accent was like British people but quite posh though XD
        Hmmm, so I want to ask you, what do you think about Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe’s accents?
        Because I like thier accents but some people said they had a quite posh accent ;;^^

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