I’ve been learning to speak with a British accent for almost 4 months now, and now it’s the right time to conclude this accent learning mission so that I can start revisiting my General American Pronunciation and work on certain details of it to make it more native-like.
Here’s what I’ve learned during the last 16 weeks while I’ve been practicing the British accent or the so called Received Pronunciation.
My Fear Prior to this Mission was Completely Unfounded!
I have to admit that when I committed to learn the Received Pronunciation, I was a bit apprehensive in regard to my ability to master this version of English pronunciation.
Well, I didn’t doubt I would be capable of putting on something vaguely resembling the British accent, at the end of the day it’s all down to how much you practice. Personally I believe ANY foreigner is capable of achieving a decent level of ANY target English accent provided that he or she works with their pronunciation on a regular basis for a long period of time.
What I was unsure was my ability to speak fluently with the British accent because I was under the impression that this particular accent was very blurred and hard to understand.
It turned out that nothing could be further from the truth!
The moment I started practicing the British accent, I realized that its distinct sound actually makes it quite easy to learn!
British Accent is Easy to Learn Because It’s Very Distinct!
What initially seemed like the biggest obstacle, turned out to be the very reason why I could learn this English accent quite easily!
Let’s take for instance, the British ‘R’ sound. It’s quite simple and straightforward – whenever possible, simply don’t pronounce the ‘R’ sound, simple as! It’s especially obvious in word endings, so in words like ‘whenever’, ‘word’, ‘learn’, ‘year’ and a host of other words you simply omit the ‘R’ sound which is great for those foreigners who might have certain difficulties pronouncing the ‘R’ sound the American way, for example.
Another British sound – ‘T’ – is also very distinct. Once you make sure to pronounce it this way ( watch video on it here ) and then stick with it, you’ll add that distinct British sound to your accent and no-one is going to have any doubts as to what English language pronunciation you’re trying to put on!
So basically my point is the following:
Once you learn the key British sounds and then speak by applying them onto your spoken English, all that feeling of the British accent blurring all words together thus making it hard to understand is simply going to go away because it’s YOU who’s speaking that way, and quite obviously you’ll know what you’re saying!
On top of that, once you start learning to speak like a Brit yourself, you’ll find it easier to understand the Received Pronunciation, so it’s going to be a win-win situation from both speaking and comprehension point of view.
Your Feedback Has Been Invaluable!
During this accent learning mission I learned an awful lot thanks to those YouTube and my blog commentators who made the effort and commented on certain imperfections of my attempted Received Pronunciation.
Reading about it and trying to put all that information into practice is one thing.
Reading a correction of a specific sound within your speech is an entirely different story altogether, for some reason or another it’s so much more effective when someone else points out a particular thing you should improve upon! It kind of makes it crystal-clear as to what exactly you’ve got to work on, and here’s a typical example of how a particular comment helped me improve my British accent.
I received a comment on one of my YouTube videos saying that I didn’t pronounce the word ‘confident’ the right way. Back then I would have pronounced that word as ‘cʌnfident’ with the letter ‘O’ pronounced as the open-mid back unrounded vowel ‘ʌ’ and the letter ‘E’ pronounced quite distinctively as ‘e’. The commentator pointed out that the letter ‘O’ should be pronounced as an open ‘o’ in this word – ‘confidnt’ – and the letter ‘E’ should be almost silent.
After reading this comment, I looked deeper into how the letter ‘O’ is pronounced in Received pronunciation.
I paid extra attention to that sound when listening to British speakers during my accent practice sessions which I wouldn’t have probably done otherwise, and as a result I figured out that the letter ‘O’ is indeed pronounced as a distinct, open ‘o’ in a lot of words unlike the American English where it’s pronounced as the open-mid back unrounded vowel.
Furthermore, this comment led to another realization, namely – British English intonation is also different – especially the word endings where a lot of vowel sounds are actually omitted!
I wouldn’t have noticed it if not for that commentator having pointed out to me that the letter ‘E’ is not to be pronounced so obviously in the word ‘confident’!
So I’m really, really thankful for everyone having contributed into my British accent development over the last few months, and I really, really appreciate it my dear friends!
What I’m Going to Do Within the Next Few Weeks
I’ve decided to review my General American Pronunciation and also fine-tune my Received Pronunciation before I embark on my next English language accent.
I’ve been doing regular American English practice while on this mission, but I know for a fact that there are a lot of gaps to be filled in terms of how I speak with the American accent, and I’m going to dedicate the next few weeks to that. Then I’ll go back to my British Accent again so that by the time I’m starting my next accent learning mission these two accents – American and British – don’t pose any problems whatsoever and I can switch between them at any time!
OK my dear friend, thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ve enjoyed following my blog so far!
Have a good one! 😀