When I make videos about the R.P. (Received Pronunciation) accent, people tend to get upset. I think that’s because some people feel like I am being critical of the way they have learnt to speak English – but is that really so? Or am I just observing subtle realities in language and the voice that the great majority of people cannot hear themselves?
In 2013 I made lots of videos about the R.P. accent that argued this accent is rarely spoken, except by native speakers of the older generation. However, I observed the fact that non-native speakers of school age are still learning this accent – perhaps due to having learnt English from an older teacher or due to using old fashioned materials. The point I was trying to make was what kind of English/accent do you want to learn? Do you want to speak in a way that is similar to real life English people you would live and work among, or in a way that sounds 30 years out of date? It also depends on your personal situation: if you are 60 years old, then an R.P. could suit you. Plus, it depends on how ‘posh’ you are: if you are posh then an R.P. accent could suit you too, in theory.
Back when I made videos about the R.P. accent, I admit that I was still insecure about my own accent (but actually my own voice in general). That comes across in those old videos. However, these days, I have changed my views about accent. I say, what ever accent you want to learn, then go ahead and learn it. Speak as you feel happy. If I ever were to observe your accent and way of speaking I would NEVER lie to you. Also, rather than accent, I think voice and clarity of speech are much more important – so in that sense I couldn’t give a flying fig about yours or anyone else’s accent! I say: speak as you feel happy.
Here’s the thing too… I think we can all agree that famous English actors have nice accents. Some people would say they speak with an R.P. accent. Now we’re getting a bit complex, but what I would say is that famous actors have healthy, well-developed VOICES, plus, they speak Stage English. Stage English is not the same as R.P.
Actors learn how to speak Stage English by going to theatre school for many years and then they speak with this accent when acting (not in normal conversation). Two of the most famous places one can learn to speak this way are RADA and Central School of Speech and Drama. These two schools are elite, hard to get into and VERY EXPENSIVE. Learning what you consider to be an R.P. accent will do nothing to transform you to sound like a famous English actor. That’s because to speak in that way has to do with breath, control, poise, range, clarity and YEARS of training the voice – which are things you won’t learn in an ordinary English class.
So, is the R.P. accent still spoken? My answer to that is yes. It is spoken and you will hear it occasionally. Also, if you work in finance, the law or at a top level in your profession, you are likely to hear your older colleagues (60 years and above) speak this way. If you know someone who is younger than that and you think they have an R.P. accent, then it might be what I call Standard Modern English.
Another thing to know is that some of the videos I made about the R.P. accent are trolling videos – it’s a running joke on my channel to trigger people regarding this accent. I make videos like this to get views, and because I know that other English people find trolling videos like this to be funny. Also please note that I have made videos making jokes about the cockney accent and the American accent too.
Regarding accent training with my private clients I am always very honest. If I don’t think I am the right accent trainer for you I would always say so. I prefer clear accents over training you to remove all traces of your native accent. So, if you came to me saying that you wanted to learn R.P. in most cases I would say I’m not the right accent trainer for you. Plus, I am more interested in developing your whole voice and speaking style, so teaching you R.P. would not be fulfilling work for me and therefore I would not be interested to work with you on a one-to-one level. Other accent trainers would suit you better and perhaps give you the results you are looking for.