What is an Accent?

Your accent is the way you say your words and sentences, rather than the actual words you choose to say. The following aspects will affect your accent:

    • The position of your lips, tongue and jaw when you say a sound.
    • The length and quality of the sounds you make.
    • The choice of consonant or vowel you make.
    • Where you place the stress in a word or sentence.
    • The range of pitch and tone you use when you speak (intonation).
    • The way you join your syllables together.

English has a huge number of accents worldwide. These are normally split into two categories: native and non-native.

What is a native accent?

A person who speaks English as their mother tongue will have a native accent. In England, every region has a different accent, a famous example is 'Cockney' which originates from East London. For examples of different regional accents, visit the British Library's on line resource here.

Which accent is used in 'An English Accent'?

All of the material in 'An English Accent' is based on RP (Received Pronunciation) sometimes known as BBC English. It is a neutral accent, which is associated with the middle classes and professional environments. Whilst this is the model studied, students will find that with improved control over their mouth and sounds, they should be able to model other regional accents.

What is a non-native accent?

Anybody who speaks English as a second language may have a non-native accent. This is where sounds, mouth positions, structures, rhythms, intonation and sound selections are being used from that person's mother tongue. For example, many non-native speakers use short vowels from their language in place of the unusual long vowels in English.

How can I change my non-native accent?

In order to change your accent, you need to study the sounds, structures and intonation of English so that you can recognize the different aspects and learn to produce them accurately. Like anything, this takes practice and dedication, but it is possible to adopt an accurate spoken English.

How do I find out about my errors and accent?

The best way is for a qualified phonetician to assess you and show you your errors and how to correct them. If you are in London, you can visit the Pronunciation Studio, if not, you can find a local school or teacher to help.