British Accent Practice
Summary: British Accent Practice
When you learn to speak a language, like English, you spend your early days just trying to remember vocabulary and basic sentence structure. It’s hard work. There are so many things to remember just to say a few English words out loud. You probably won’t have time to think about accents.
This is interesting because your first language and where your English teacher comes from will have a very strong influence on your future English accent. If your French and your English teacher is American, your accent will be different to a French learner who learns to speak English with a British teacher.
Does this matter? Well, yes and no, most native English speakers will understand you regardless of your accent. But it can have a big impact on your understanding of English speakers who have strong regional accents.
If your learning to speak English to help with a job, then listening to English speakers from the region in which you want to work, makes sense.
Audio Transcript: British Accent Practice
Hi and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This is our Monday podcast and therefore it’s slightly longer than our Thursday podcast. But we put out two podcasts every week, so that you can practise your English language understanding – and using this, improve your fluency.
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British Accent Practice is necessary
I found this last year, when I was on holiday in Spain. I don’t speak any Spanish, but I can speak some French and when we were staying in Spain, our host, the lady in whose house we were staying didn’t speak English – but we soon realised that we could both speak some French. So that was really useful. I could understand her French better than I can some French speakers – she spoke more slowly and we were patient with each other, neither speaking our first language. So sometimes two people speaking English as 2nd language is easier – easier than understanding native English speakers! In the UK, there are lots of regional accents, accents from the regions, different parts of the UK and some can be really difficult to understand. So it’s useful to focus on British Accent Practice. It’s a good idea to be familiar with some of the main UK accents. If you listen to Adept English regularly, you’ll know my voice and my way of pronouncing things and you’ll find it easier to understand me perhaps than other people.
So how about today we do some British Accent Practice – practice understanding British accents will be helpful to you in your learning and it won’t be so confusing when you hear an accent. So the accent I’m going to look at today is the Liverpool accent.
An Example of a Liverpool Accent
So the Liverpool accent comes of course, from Liverpool. And just in case you’ve never heard of Liverpool – it’s the city that The Beatles come from. Also there’s a pretty big Football Club – Liverpool FC – and there’s also Everton FC as well. So if you’ve ever heard footballers like Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard speaking – that is a Liverpool accent. So you can say ‘Liverpool Accent’ or ‘Liverpudlian Accent’ and it also goes by the name of ‘Scouse’, S-C-O-U-S-E and people who speak with this accent are often called ‘Scousers’.
So the audio recording I’m going to use for some British Accent Practice for you, is of a British actress, from Liverpool, called Jodie Comer. Now Jodie Comer has been in lots of things and is known for her roles in British TV, television drama. She was in a series called Doctor Foster – and then more recently in a BBC drama called Killing Eve. In Killing Eve, Jodie Comer plays the main role – and has a really convincing Russian accent, as a psychopath and murderer called Villanelle. So when people heard her natural Liverpool accent, they were quite surprised. Here she is in 2016 talking about acting, before she was quite so famous. I’ll talk through what she’s saying afterwards, in case you find it difficult to understand. We’ll go through it together – like we do on Adept English Course One. It’s worth listening a couple of times first to see how much you can understand. So here is Jodie Comer – you’ll notice a Liverpool accent can be quite fast.
So, How much of that did you understand? Before you go further, you could listen again a couple more times, to see how much understanding you can get if you repeat your listening. Then you could look at the transcript, the written version of this podcast, to see if that takes you further. You can find the transcripts to all our podcasts on our website at adeptenglish.com. British Accent Practice is difficult, so I’ll now read through the transcript of what Jodie Comer says in this audio to make it easier for you to understand. You know my voice, so that should help.
Let’s make this easier to understand!
She’s...Jodie Comer is reading questions off pieces of paper, then giving her answers to the questions. So she says:-
“What’s the best bit of advice that you’ve ever been given?” What is meant for you will not pass you by. My mam says that to me every time erm….I’m sulking about a part that I didn’t get. And it’s so true. Who’s your guru? Erm….at the minute, George Harrison. Love George Harrison. Erm…..Sum up your job in three words. Loads of fun. Best job ever. There’s two for you. What are your tips for auditioning? I would say you’ve been brought in the room for a reason, they’re already on your side, so just do your best and learn your lines because you’ve got just as much chance as anyone else.”
So was that any easier? Let’s go through the vocabulary – it’s in the same style that we do on our courses.
Helpful vocabulary to understand the clip
So the first question Jodie Comer reads out ‘What is the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?’ So advice, A-D-V-I-C-E means when someone suggests that you do something, because it will help you. They give you their opinion on what you should do to succeed. I give you lots of advice in Adept English – like listen a lot and repeat your listening – that’s advice. So Jodie Comer answers the question saying ‘What is meant for you will not pass you by’. So she’s saying here, if something is meant for you – like an acting part, if it’s right for you, ‘it will not pass you by’ - it means you’ll get it. So she’s talking here...it’s a bit philosophical – a good piece of advice for life. Maybe it could be said of any job opportunity ‘If the job is meant for you, you’ll get it, it won’t pass you by’. So you either get the job and it was meant to be – or you don’t get the job and it means it wasn’t right for you. She then says ‘My mam says that to me every time I’m sulking about a part that I didn’t get’.
So here, notice she says ‘My mam’, M-A-M rather than ‘mum’ - that’s a northern way to say ‘Mum’. So her mum says that ‘every time she’s sulking about a part she didn’t get’. So the verb ‘to sulk’? If you’re sulking, you’re not happy, you’ve gone quiet, maybe you don’t speak to anyone for a bit, usually because you’re sad or angry or disappointed. And why is Jodie Comer sulking? It’s about ‘a part she didn’t get’. So ‘a part’ in this context means an acting role. ‘A part in a drama or a film’. It means the role, the character that the actor plays, the job if you like, for an actor. Notice she says ‘Sulken’ - I can’t do a Liverpool accent – but ‘sulken’ rather than ‘sulking’.
The next question Jodie Comer reads out ‘Who’s your guru?’ and she answers ‘George Harrison’, so of course, one of The Beatles. A guru, G-U-R-U is another word which is the same in many languages, because it comes from Hinduism or Buddhism and it means a ‘spiritual teacher’, someone very wise, that you learn from. She likes George Harrison of course, because he’s from Liverpool too! The next question – and this is hard to hear – is ‘Sum up your job in three words’. So the verb ‘to sum up’ means ’give a very short description’, describe in three words. You could say to someone ‘Sum up your holiday in one word’ and they reply ‘Sunny!’. So ‘Sum up your job in three words’ and Jodie Comer replies ‘Loads of fun’, then she also says ‘Best job ever’. So because she’s given two different three word summaries, she then says ‘There’s two for you’. Again for the accent - notice how she says ‘Wurds, wurds’ - I can’t quite do it, but it’s different, it’s not ‘words’ that you would normally say.
And the final question Jodie Comer reads out ‘What are your tips for auditioning?’ So the verb ‘to audition’? Well, if you’re an actor, then you audition when you go to try out for a part in a film. This may involve acting a piece or it could be singing or dancing. An audition is really like a job interview for actors. And what is Jodie Comer’s reply? She says ‘I would say you’ve been brought in the room for a reason’ - so she’s saying there, they wouldn’t invite you for an audition if they didn’t think you could do it. She says ‘They’re already on your side’. So if you’re ‘on someone’s side’ that means you support them, you want them to do well. She continues ‘So just do your best’. That means do the best that you can’ and she says ‘learn your lines because you’ve [got] just as much chance as anyone else’.
So ‘to learn your lines’ - again this is what actors do – they have to learn the words, the sentences that their characters say in the film or the play that they’re acting in. So actors always have to ‘learn their lines’. And finally she says ‘because you’ve got just as much chance as anyone else’. ‘To have a chance’ means ‘this is possible for you’. She’s ending on a positive note. So if you’re in an audition, you’ve as much chance as anyone else. Jodie Comer means here ‘If you’re there, it could be you that gets the part, gets the acting job’.
How to use this podcast
OK, so not just British Accent Practice, but also some good vocabulary learning for you. This is the way that we do it on our Course One, Activate your Listening. You hear some spoken English and then I go through it with you, word by word, helping you with the difficult words, so that you can understand the English, without ever thinking in your own language. We stay, thinking in English – that’s a good way to learn! Have a look on our website at Course One if you’re interested and if you want more of this technique. So perhaps what you need to do now for your British Accent Practice, now that you’ve understood, is listen to this podcast again – or listen to the clip with Jodie Comer possibly several times to hear that Liverpool accent.
When you’ve had some good British Accent Practice, if you meet someone with a Liverpool accent, you’ll be a bit more prepared. Let us know what you think of this podcast, whether it’s helpful and if you go to the transcript, you’ll find the link to the video on YouTube too.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Even Londoners have difficulty understanding what a scouser might say
Today's lesson is an extreme case. Even native English speakers struggle with accents like those from Liverpool. It’s interesting to observe some problems though. Things like the speed with which we speak sentences. How the pronunciation of English words gets extended, so you might hear the speaker speak quickly but slow the ending of a sentence.
I think it's important to learn the general problems you might encounter when listening to the many regional accents as a new English language learner. Listening to the speaker many times will train your brain to hear the subtle differences, not so much that you understand what’s being said, initially just that your brain recognises the language as English.
Your brain is rather clever. It can tune out noises, such as background noise and knows when to pay attention and listen to what's being said. If your brain is not familiar with English being spoken with an accent, then it may just not pay attention to what is being said. You can only fix this by practice and repeat listening. You will train your brain to spot the language parts of the noise your hearing.