Main Tips To Speak With A British Accent
Here are 4 tips to speak with a British accent!
Hi from Speak More Clearly!
In this video, I will be talking about how to speak in a British accent and what you need to do to gain a new standard or modern received pronunciation accent.
This is less formal than the full received pronunciation accent and is used as a standard British accent.
Tip # 1: Learn how to pronounce the vowels the British way.
As soon as you begin speaking with British vowels, you already begin to sound much more British.
Of course, one of the reasons we developed our British accent online course, was to give detailed training about how to place your jaw, tongue and lips so you know exactly how to change your pronunciation to sound British.
British vowels can be short, medium length or long. It’s important to pay attention to the length because if you shorten a long vowel you can change the meaning of a word.
‘Rod’ has a short ‘o’ and ‘road’ has a long ‘oe’.
‘I went down the ‘rod’’, I get a picture of someone sliding down a metal rod or pole.
‘I went down the road, I imagine someone walking or driving on a road.
Short vowels to learn are:
‘o’ /ɒ/ as in hot
‘a’ /æ/ as in cat
‘u’ /ʌ/ as in cup
‘e’/e/ as in bed
i /ɪ/ as in hit
schwa /ə/ vowel
The schwa vowel which is said like a short ‘u’ – you just relax your mouth and open it a little /ə/.
It’ s extremely important because it’s the vowel in weak or unstressed syllables.
competition – compətiton
The ‘e’ (egg) becomes a shwa.
That’s part of speaking with correct British word stress and rhythm.
around – əround
Medium-length vowels are:
‘ee’ as in feet
‘oo’ as in food
shorter ‘oo’ as in foot
‘or’ as in form
‘er’ as in burn
‘ar’ as in park
For ‘or’, ‘ar’ and ‘er’ the /r/ letter is not pronounced in most cases.
Longer vowels are made up of 2 or 3 vowels said together – diphthongs and triphthongs. The diphthongs are vowels such as ‘oe’ phone, ‘ai’ rain, ‘oi’ oil, ‘ie’ fine, ‘ow’ house. The longer triphthongs are vowels such as ‘ire’ as in tire or ‘ear’ as in beer.
Tip #2: Learn the British /t/ and /d/ sounds.
For these sounds, your tongue tip goes straight up to the bony ridge behind your top front teeth. The /t/ and /d/ sounds are made the same way in your mouth, except that you switch on your voice in your voice box when you say the /d/ sound.
You have to be careful not to put your tongue tip onto the back of your top front teeth. So, it’s not ‘t’ (Spanish), it’s /t/ tongue straight up and lots of air release as you drop your tongue down.
/t/ (lift your chin up)
The position is the same for the /d/ sound – not ‘d’ (Spanish). It’s /d/ the British way.
/d/ (lift your chin)
The other thing to make sure you understand with the /t/ sound is that the /t/ in the middle of words between vowels is not said as a /d/ sound but stays as a /t/.
So, it’s ‘better’, and not, the American pronunciation which is ‘bedder’. For the American, the /t/ becomes a /d/ sound in this position in the word.
better – bedder
Other examples of words with the /t/ said in the middle are letter, little, party, and cutting.
Tip #3: Learn how to pronounce the British R sound such as in the words, red, round, carry, hurry and so on.
When you make the /r/ sound in British English, your tongue tip doesn’t touch the roof of your mouth as it does in lots of other languages.
For example, it isn’t rolled like this (Spanish): /r/, and it isn’t made at the base of the tongue like this: /r/ (french ‘r’). It’s a completely different sound.
Tip #4: Learn how to use the unvoiced ‘th’ as in’ think’, and the voiced ‘th’ as in ‘this’.
The unvoiced is ‘th’, and the voiced is the same mouth movement, but with the voice added ‘th’.
A bonus tip here is that even though you do have to put your tongue between your teeth and hold it there and let the air go out over it, you don’t have to stick your tongue out too far.
If you stick it out too far it’s hard to say the sound naturally in your everyday speech.
You can just put the tip of your tongue just between your top and bottom teeth, and then move on to the next sound in the word. But make sure you stay in that position long enough to make the ‘th’ properly.
unvoiced ‘th’ – I think – not sticking the tongue out a lot letting enough air out before moving off the ‘th’.
I thought about it.
voiced ‘th’ – over there
This is only the beginning of mastering all the elements on how to do the British accent, but we hope these four main tips will help kickstart things for you.
For more detailed training and tons of practice material so you can be clear and confident speaking with a British accent, have a look at our British accent course.