Understanding English Accents
This blog is all about understanding English accents. Did you know that English is one of the most common languages in the world? The language spoken by most countries is English and it has the second largest number of speakers in the world. (Mandarin has the most speakers!)
Therefore, it is easy to see how understanding different accents can be very difficult as there are so many English accents, not only from the UK, America and Australia, but from all over the world!
Most native English speakers speak very quickly and use expressions and slang so you may have problems understanding them. Here are some tips, which may help you understand the English language better quicker and have more fun practicing!
10 Hints and Tips in Understanding English Accents!
Ask people to slow down.
Many people might not realise that you don’t understand and will continue to speak at their usual fast speed. Most people won’t mind at all if you ask them to speak slower and it will be much easier to understand them!
Expose yourself to many different accents.
If you listen to more “real” English, your ear will soon adapt to hearing different accents.
Watch English TV and films.
If you do not understand everything to begin with, put on English subtitles. Just remember to switch them off occasionally and see if you understand without them!
Listen to the radio.
You may not understand everything in the beginning but you will improve quickly if you listen regularly. You could start by listening to podcasts made for English language students if local radio is too difficult.
Listen to English at least an hour a day.
The more you listen, the easier it will be!
Go out and socialise.
By going out and meeting people, you will hear a wide range of different accents (especially in London!). Even if you cannot join in the conversation at first, just listening to people will help!
Join an English language school.
Join a school like Education Gateway. You will meet likeminded people with many different accents and everyone is in the “same boat” as you (in the same situation so they understand how you feel).
Do some travelling.
Travel to different areas in the UK (and around the world) where people have different English accents and try to listen and speak to them.
Don’t worry if you can’t understand everything.
Often, even native English speakers cannot understand someone if their accent is very different! However, the more you listen to and speak English to people with different accents, the easier it will become to understand them!
Relax and talk a bit slower.
The same as point 1, slow down yourself! Talk a bit slower than you are used to. Breathe before you start to speak and remember, the more you practice, the easier it gets!
Understanding English Accents.
Some General Rules
East-Asian languages use tone to differentiate between words, whereas tone in English is used for stress and emphasis. As if that is not enough, English sounds different almost any place you go. American English is different than English in Australia. While British English can have up to 17 different accents!
To help you navigate this sticky web of so many different sounds, we have created this little guide that might help your English sound a bit more … English.
Without getting into the specifics of the many different dialects in the United Kingdom, here are some general rules that will help you understand and imitate British English:
- The ‘r’ at the ends of words is often omitted. The vowel before the last ‘r’ is often made longer and the ‘r’ is dropped. British English also doesn’t exhibit any rolling of the ‘r’ sound.
mother sounds like ‘muthuh’
father sounds like ‘fathah’
daughter sounds like ‘dot-tuh’
- Some words with a are not pronounced with the short a like in ‘cat’ or ‘tan’. Instead, these words adopt the broad-a like in ‘father’ or ‘auto’.
bath sounds like ‘bah-th’
can’t rhymes with ‘want’ as opposed to ‘pant’
dance sounds more like ‘fonts’ as opposed to ‘rants’
- ‘u’ in British English sounds more like the ew in ‘you’ than a ‘u’ in ‘stupid’.
scoop sounds more like ‘scewp’
stupid becomes ‘stew-pid’
duty becomes ‘dew-ty’
- ay becomes closer to ie.
day becomes die
buy becomes boy
stay becomes sty
- ‘t’ can sometimes be omitted.
better becomes ‘beh’ uh’
wet becomes ‘weh’
potter becomes ‘po’ uh’
And there are a lot more! Remember that it is a matter of practice! Your Teacher at Education Gateway can tell you everything about it. As Education Gateway only utilises Native American and English Teachers, feel free to ask different teachers!
Understanding English Accents.
About Education Gateway
Education Gateway is located next to Chiang Mai University in Thailand’s north; our modern school specialises in corporate English training for the service-provider industry, preparation programs for students to study abroad, as well as general English courses for better communication and Learning Management Systems (LMS).
At Education Gateway, we focus on helping you attain proficiency in any English-language environment. Our new, well-equipped classrooms are designed for up to eight students per room. The small size of the groups in spacious classrooms allows teachers and trainers to provide individualised instruction and ensures that students progress satisfactorily.
We also offer in- house training in the meeting rooms at your hotel. Our teachers and trainers are flexible, so we can arrange a specific training for your staff outside the office hours. We offer customised English training for various industries including hospitality, travel and airlines, medical, automotive and manufacturing. Our program is equally suitable for company employees working in general management, secretarial/clerical, customer service, human resources or sales capacities. Both in- house training at your own facilities as well as private training in our classrooms is available.