If you are learning English you may wonder why it is important to listen to different English accents and be thinking to yourself “well surely English is English”.
However, it may surprise you to know that there are 160 recognized English accents and dialects around the world 😲
And that doesn’t include the millions of people who speak English as a second language and whose native language will creep into their spoken English.
Why Listen to different English accents and dialects?
If you just listen to the same person all the time, for example if you only hear English spoken by your teacher, you may find that when you hear English spoken with a different English accent that it’s difficult to understand them.
In a real life situation this is part of the fun of learning and communicating, however if you are learning English for an exam, it is essential you understand different English accents, particularly for the listening part of your exam.
How to Practice Listening to Different English Accents
Happily, there are many different ways to listen to different English accents so you can be confident you can understand someone speaking English regardless of where they are from.
One of the easiest ways to familiarize yourself with different English accents is right here at Ringo Lingo!
Head over to our dictations pages and take a look at the ‘change speaker’ option.
Admittedly, we don’t have all 160 different accents here, however you will find five different English accents so you can practice and familiarize yourself with some of the key differences.
This is a really good way to practice as the speakers are speaking exactly the same words, making it easy to compare and contrast.
Listen To News from a Variety of English Speaking Sources
Another great way to familiarize yourself with different English accents is to listen to news broadcasts. Why? Well, one of the key reasons is because if you listen to the news in your native language you are likely to be familiar with recent world events. Therefore when you listen to the news in English, you will already be aware of the key stories so you will have context and you will find it easier to understand and comprehend.
Here are three to get you started, however jump onto a your preferred search engine and see what other English language news services you can find:
- BBC – The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has a variety of channels which you can listen to. One of the most useful for listening to international news is the World Service. While the BBC is British based, and many of the presenters speak with a British accent, you will hear other accents, particularly on the World Service
- CNN – another good place to go for news themed audio is CNN Audio. Here you will find a range of options, typically with American accents.
- ABC Radio – ABC Radio Australia covers a range of different news stories. Hear news stories in Australian accents. ABC also provide a range of free online resources to help you learn English. Again, these will largely be Australia focused and will help you familiarize yourself with Australian words and dialect.
Not only are all the different English accents and dialects a challenge to English language learners – they can also be a challenge to native English speakers (as well as a source of great amusement).
If you search ‘English Accents’ in YouTube, you will find many videos ranging from educational to humorous demonstrating the many different English accents and dialects. Here are a few we have particularly enjoyed:
Tips for Familiarizing Yourself With Different English Accents and Dialects
Here are some tips to help you get started familiarizing yourself with the different English accents and dialects:
- Watching videos is a great way to practice your English. When you are watching from a streaming service make a note of where a series is based so you know what accent they will typically be speaking with.
- If you hear someone speaking with an accent you are not familiar with, ask them if they can tell you what accent they have. Obviously tread carefully and be polite, however most people are more than happy to tell you a bit about their accent and why it is special and how it is different to others.
- Try to put yourself into a situation where you are listening to a variety of people with different accents and dialects. If you have a regular speaking partner, change things up occasionally.
- Take advantage of free services like the ones we have here to expose yourself to different accents.
Hopefully this will have got you thinking about different English accents and how you can become familiar with them to better prepare yourself for both English in the real world and for your English exams.