In this post, I’m going to talk about changing my original South London accent to a Standard British Accent. This post may be of interest to you if you have ever considered elocution lessons to change a strong or undesirable accent. I’ll also mention the wider impact that changing my accent has had on my life.
The South East London Accent: An Unattractive Accent
The South East London Accent is my original accent because I grew up there and my family also spoke with that accent. When I was growing up, I didn’t realise that I had what was widely perceived as being a strong and unattractive accent. The South East London accent is an offshoot of the Cockney accent, which in accent surveys is often voted to be among the most unattractive English accents.
Watch the video about why I changed my accent:
How Long Did It Take To Change My Accent?
My accent has changed gradually, over the course of 20 years. It began with starting a ‘posh’ secondary school. Many years later it became a conscious effort to change the way that I speak. The reason that I earnestly began work to change my accent was because of the negative comments I got from viewers on YouTube, concerning my South London Accent.
Elocution Training: A Controversial Topic
Accents are touchy subject for a lot of people. I am not saying the South East London accent is bad or even that it sounds bad. However, what I am saying is that having that accent limited my options in life. Before I changed my accent, a lot of doors where closed to me because of the way I spoke. I don’t experience any of those limitations now, therefore I can say that changing my accent has hugely improved my life.
Accent discrimination is the idea that people are excluded from particular jobs or opportunities because of speaking with the wrong type of accent. Based on this knowledge, some people react by wanting to change the world, and others by changing themselves. My view is that some unfairness is always going to exist; rather than fighting the system it is better to put that energy into overcoming the obstacles that you personally face in life. If your choices are limited because of the way you speak, then the best course of action is to do something about that.
Should I Change My Accent?
Perhaps if we lived in a perfect world, accents wouldn’t matter so much. But regardless, I think that is the wrong way of framing the problem of accent discrimination. The reason being that working to improve your accent brings other positive benefits to your life. You learn to speak more clearly and become a much better communicator overall.
The politically correct opinion being expressed by many English teachers these days is that the accent you speak with doesn’t matter. Based on my personal life experience, I can say that isn’t true. Some accents and ways of talking hinder your progress through life, while others uplift you.
There are a few downsides to mention, however. Changing your original accent means that you won’t speak the same as your family and childhood friends anymore. Speaking differently to them will mean that you don’t fit in or belong as well as you did before. You may also be criticised by them for ‘talking posh’ (this is an attempt to make you stop).
If you have a strong or unattractive accent, elocution training is the way to go to be more accepted and respected in the wider world. It will also help you and your work get better recognition (as was my experience).
Extend Your Learning
▶︎ Learn more about the Glottal Stop: ‘Always Pronounce Your t’s‘
▶︎ Want to reduce a strong accent? Take my Clear Accent Course