Tips to Understand Accents in your Targeted Foreign Language

Tips to Understand Accents in your Targeted Foreign Language

Mastering a foreign language is not just about learning words and phrases.

Ever been in a situation where you are familiar with the language but you’re just not use to the thick accent or dialect of the person in front of you?

Don’t worry! Many of us have been there.

In today’s post, we are going to show you exactly how easy it can be to overcome this obstacle!

Firstly, you need to know that it’s about much more than that accent, dialect and more about your attitude towards the language itself.

This article explains in detail what learners experience when trying to get to grips with different accents and tips on how to overcome this hurdle using some very simple and effective techniques.

Most people forget that one of the essential elements of languages is the way you  pronounce those tongue twisting words . Some of the simplest words translated can be problematic and lead you to avoid ever using it within your sentences.

If you’re the kind of person who wants to improve your language fast and never wants to give up on a challenge, well here are some tips on not only getting to terms with accents (when speaking or even listening) but also understanding different accents/voices when learning.

The Play Back Method

Let’s start with one very basic but important one. This is very effective but often by passed by many learners. It’s the listening and repeating exercise.

Start with listening to a clip on youtube. It’s important that you fully understand the video. If not, take 5 minutes to interpret each word.

Now, take one sentence at a time and repeat. If you want, you could even record yourself on your smartphone and play it back. Does it sound the same?

Ask yourself, how does the pronunciation tastes and feel in your mouth? Be honest with yourself, are you mastering the accent?

Know the accent type

destinations-235942_1920Have you thought about the origins of the language? Let’s take English as an example, the language itself is the same but the the geographical journey varies the accent immensely from Australia, all the way to the USA.

Within the UK itself, you have countless accents and in such a small place it’s rare to find such a variety. The Scottish accent is very throaty and thick whereas the most famous British Cockney accent comes from London and in comparison has lots of raised vowels. If we move further west, people find that the welsh accent is very hilly.


Now let’s move onto the United States,  if you come across someone from Texas, here the accent is likely to be very flat. And going down-under to our friends in Australia, you’ll find they sound nasal with very little mouth movement.

In this scenario, having an idea about the type of English you want to learn can help you master the language and accent. Rather than practising with several different types of people, concentrate your efforts on finding someone who has the accent you want to master and you’ll notice a vast difference rapidly.


By far the least popular but very powerful, Imitating can speed up your the learning process.

Once you’ve found yourself a steady exchange partner, during your meetings just try mimicking them. Does the person you’re speaking too, understand what you’re saying?

Naturally, make your partner aware that you are just trying to perfect your accent and you are by no means making fun. You don’t want this to break a good working conversation exchange.

Now you might believe that this is ridiculous but just by repeating the same word over and over again, be assured you are doing exactly what is needed. We asked our language students, if any of them have ever attempted this technique and the response was extraordinary. At least 45% have thought about it but were too shy or afraid.

So we launched a challenge on ELE and the participants were asked to mimic the accent they heard and then either respond normally or do so trying to mimic the accent and then transcribe what was being said to them.

They found those who imitated the accent understood what was being said to them much better than the others.

The true test is finding someone who speaks your targeted language. We are sure you’ve already know someone, so why not recontact them and touch base to schedule in a session.

Final thoughts…

Remember, that accents typically differ in voice quality, pronunciation and distinction of vowels and consonants, stress, and prosody so if you don’t get the hang of it straight away, all you need is a little practice to tune up.

Good Luck!

Comments ( 3 )

  • Fox

    It is very good tips. Thank you very much.

  • Hicham

    Thank you so much for this great information that you shared with us.

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