I Don't Have A Natural Talent For Accents

May 20, 2020

It might surprise you to know that I don’t have a natural talent for accents.

You:  Then how do you teach accents and dialects?

Me:  Because you don’t have to be “good at accents” or have a natural ear for mimicking speech to teach accents and dialects.

There is a systematic process to teaching and learning accents and it’s the same process that I talk about in my intro workshop and teach in-depth in my teacher training program. Once you have learned my method, you can learn and teach any accent at all.

It really boils down to this basic premise:

An accent or dialect is a set of sound substitutions, rhythms, stress patterns, intonations, and vocabulary. To change an accent or dialect all you have to do is identify and replace the sound substitutions, rhythms, stress patterns, intonations, and vocabulary of the current accent with the sound substitutions, rhythms, stress patterns, intonations, and vocabulary of the goal accent.

Teaching a London accent or a New York accent really isn’t that different than teaching a General American Accent. The process of identifying and changing specific sound substitutions is the same. The sounds are different, but the process is exactly the same.

And you really should know how to teach more than one accent.


Well, there are many reasons but here are my top 3:

  • It helps your students: I teach several accents/dialect to my students, even the non-native speakers who want to learn an American accent.   Playing around with different sounds, rhythms, intonations makes the General American accent feel more comfortable for them and helps to break down the psychological blocks that everyone faces when changing the way they speak
  • An American accent may not be the best goal: You students probably come to you to help them sound more like the people around them. So what if they live in Texas? Or New Jersey? Or Dublin, Ireland? If you only teach one American accent, you won’t be able to help these students reach their goals.
  • Makes you more knowledgeable and more marketable: Knowing more about different accents and dialects makes you a better teacher. And teaching accents and dialects to actors is a really lucrative, in-demand service. Plus, it is a lot of fun!

So please don’t underestimate your ability.

Yes, you need a systematic method of learning and teaching accents and dialects.

Yes, you have to study.

Yes, you have to practice.

But you don’t have to be perfect.

And like everything else when it comes to teaching, you will get better with experience.

So tell me, what different accents and dialects would you like to learn to teach?

Let me know by commenting below or posting in the Teachers School Facebook group. 

I’d love to hear from you,



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