Five Tips for Sounding Like a Native British Speaker
To sound like a native British speaker avoid the use of American words. There are many words and phrases which are used in America but not in England. Here are some of them:
- sidewalk = pavement
- trash = rubbish
- fall = autumn
- faucet = tap
- cookie = biscuit
So, to sound more British avoid using words like sidewalk or cookie.
The use of R
Often the letter R is dropped, especially when it comes at the end of a sentence.
It is replaced by an “uh” sound.
- liver is pronounced as livuh,
- weather is pronounced as weathuh and
- better is pronounced as bettuh.
However, the R is pronounced when it comes at the beginning of a word or before a vowel, such as in rabbit, friend, very and brave.
Uh is known as “the schwa sound”, which I explain in more detail in another Blog post. When you understand and use it then you will sound more like a native English speaker.
The use of T
In British English the letter T is pronounced as a T whereas in American English it is often pronounced as a D.
For example, in American English:
- city is pronounce as sidi,
- potty is pronounce as poddy,
- kitty is pronounce as kiddy.
So, to sound British pronounce the letter T as a T and not as a D.
However, there is an exception to this rule where, sometimes, the T is not pronounce at all. This is known as the Glottal T. An example would be in “a bottle of milk”. Sometimes, when speaking quickly, an English speaker does not pronounce the T at all. I explain more about this in another video.
Practice Speaking British English Pronunciation
In America some children are beginning to talk with a British accent because they have been watching British TV shows such as “Peppa Pig”. They have subconsciously picked up British pronunciation.
You can learn to speak British English in the same way. For example, at this website:
You can watch short, six minute videos of people having a conversation. You will become more fluent by listening to them. And you can also download an audio and pdf of the conversation.
To help you to develop a British accent quickly try this system:
- play the video;
- play it again, stop after each sentence and repeat what you heard;
- and play it for a third time and speak along at the same time as the speaker.
Copy the speaker’s rhythm, intonation, and stress.
Also, record yourself and play it back, comparing yourself to the original. This will help you to improve your pronunciation, learn new words and internalise the grammar.
To make it more effective you could listen to it again and write out what you think they are saying and check with the transcript below the video.
This will develop your listening, speaking, reading and writing skills, which is especially useful for the IELTS exam.
Try to do something everyday to immerse yourself in English and learn quickly. For example, you could:
- read at least one chapter a day of an English book.
- listen to a podcast in English while you’re jogging or working out at the gym.
- Go on YouTube and watch a film in English.
Good films in British English that you can watch on YouTube include classics like:
- The Secret Garden
- Charles Dickens’ movies
- Jane Austen’s movies
There are also a lot of old British comedy films on YouTube.
- Take online lessons from a native English speaker, such as the ones that we can give you at https://www.tofluentenglish.com/
So, to summarise you can sound like a native, British speaker by following the five tips above.