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About ‘British’ Accents [Part 1]

The advertising says, ‘When you study here, you get a pure British accent. We’ll teach you to sound British. This will definitely help you when you go to Britain to study.’

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And it’s becoming trendy now. And it seems to be working, unfortunately, drawing students in. Yes, a few of my students from the past have been forcing ‘British’ mannerisms into their speaking. When I asked them why they talked in such a strange way, the reply was, “I want to sound British”, and “I was taught to talk this way.” Hmmmmm. Yet this 'teaching' made the student sound strange, slowed his speaking style, and ….. well, let just say that it’s a bad idea, and a bad way to learn English. Here’s why.

  1. It’s a globalised world. Britain (and America and Australia) are very multicultural. Don’t believe the stereotype that these countries are full of blue-eyed white-skinned people with a single accent. You’ll be shocked when you get there.
  2. Similarly, you’ll be shocked by the range of regional accents in Britain. I worked there for over a year, and even wrote a book based on that setting [Click here for details]. Britain is famous (or infamous) for its variety of accents, which even vary from city to city (Manchester versus Leicester), let alone region to region (Scotland versus Wales). So, what ‘British’ accent are you being forced to copy? Something just invented from stereotypes of ‘cultured’ British people? Whatever it is, you’ll be unlikely to ever hear it, from teachers, classmates, or the people in society.
  3. Your IELTS examiner could be Australian or North American (USA or Canada), or anything – provided that they have ‘native’ or ‘near-native’ pronunciation. It’s actually more likely now that you’ll get a non-British examiner. If you just think ‘British accent’, you’re not helping yourself for the actual IELTS Speaking Test.
  4. Similarly, the IELTS Listening Test mixes accents: Australian, American, New Zealander, Indian, and so on.
  5. Your fellow students and teachers in Britain will not talk that ‘British’ way, and you’ll need to interact with them regularly, in discussions, seminars, and group work. It’s the western style of teaching.

These last four points are based on the fact that people in real life, your IELTS examiner, people recorded for the IELTS Listening Test, and people in your British school, do not speak like that strange accent you are learning.

And the list goes on, but that will be continued in the next post.

 

By the way, find out the meaning of the underlined words, and really learn vocabulary (that is, in context [See my IELTS Reading Book, Tip One, Strategy 1, page 2]).

  • stereotype
  • infamous
  • native

Talking of words, here are the answers to the previous post: IELTS Grammar Hint (3).

 

  1.   have more concerns
  2.   to face the future
  3.   I deeply believe that
  4.   develop creativity   [provoke is for negative things]
  5.   Some people feel
  6.   preserve heritage
  7.   It is very expensive.
  8.   The radiation has affected thousands of people.  [influenced is not for negative things]
  9.   Mosquitoes occur everywhere.
  10.   … because of dengue fever.

 

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