The official website of educator & arts patron Jack C Richards

Teaching a British Accent

Question:

Submitted by P.B.S.Krishnam Raju , India

Could you please suggest procedures to teach a British Accent to Advanced Level students?

Professor Richards Responds:

I assume the issue here is the wish for learners to modify the “Indianness” of their accent in English?  Not everyone would agree that this is a necessary goal in language learning, since one’s accent is a marker of one’s cultural identity. However sometimes a strong regional or national accent my impede understanding in some contexts,  hence the basis for your question. In order to address this isse the starting point is a diagnostic profile of the chracteristicss of the  learners’ current pronunciation. This is often done with a combination of measures, such as reading aloud, an interview, and participation in communication tasks. This will enable identification of core aspects of pronunciation that may need to be modified, whether these be vowels, consonants, or suprasegmentals. Then speciifc features need to be addressed one at a time, over a period of time, using the usual procedures found in pronunciation manuals. It is important to realize that in addressing difficulties with pronunciation, learners first need to notice the problem, they then need to understand how the sound feature is produced, and then need practice activities that move from controlled to freer practice.