Getting a British Accent
One of the most common questions I get asked is “How can I get a British accent?”
Today I’d like to share my views on whether this is a good question to ask. It may rustle some feathers and many people may disagree, but these are my views right now (subject to change). What do you think?
Why Do People Want a British Accent?
I get messages every day about getting a British accent. My most popular video is also one about speaking with a British accent. There’s no doubt that this is a common question learners have. When I ask “Why”? in response, I often get answers like:
Because it sounds cool, because I want to be British, because I want to be respected, because I hate my accent, because I want to be a native speaker…
For the most part, I would say these aren’t great reasons to learn a language. Let’s talk about why.
Should You Change Your Goal?
I believe our main focus in language learning should be on building fluency, which is input and output (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and a natural accent will develop over time.
It’s important to remember that no one has a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ accent. If you hear the range of accents within the UK alone, you’ll get an idea that there is no such thing as the “British accent”.
I do think it’s can be a good idea to try to reduce any strong accent you may have. A thick French accent can be hard to understand, just as a thick Irish accent can be hard to understand, even though the Irish person is a native English speaker. It’s all down to what you’re used to hearing.
So if the French or Irish person want to be more easily understood by more people, it might be a good idea to try to change some features of their accent – even if it’s just temporarily for a specific audience.
Why Are You Learning?
The most important question to ask yourself is, “Why am I learning?”
What’s the purpose of language?
Your answer may differ, but for me, it would be to communicate with people, to be understood and to make connections.
Now ask yourself: “Do my current goals align with the purpose of language learning?”
- Controversial (00:37) – Likely to cause disagreement
- To get off your chest (00:53) – To admit something that has been bothering you for a while
- To rustle feathers (7:08) – To annoy or disturb someone
- Buzzword (7:56) – A popular word in a particular area
- Subject to change (15:04) – Likely to change and be different in the future
- Anecdotal (21:52) – Based on experience