Can an American English speaker train their mouth and tongue to speak like a Brit? What really is the difference between the two English accents? According to Barbara Berkery, a dialect and voice coach that trains many actors to perfect their accent, Americans speak with wide, almost grinlike mouths. British speech requires a dropped jaw and vertically open lips. (Imagine you are blowing kisses and then say the word “swan.”) Clearly enunciate consonants. Don’t, for example, say T’s as D’s (it is “butter,” not “budder”). “That’s a very American thing,” Berkery says. You should hear the full T at the end of “cat.”
Berkery trained Renee Zellweger to sound British for her role in the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” In this article on the NY times, Berkery says before filming started, Zellweger used an alias to get a temp job at a London publishing house where everyone assumed she was British. Order at a restaurant or ask to try on clothes in a department store in your new patois. “Use the accent with strangers, otherwise you’ll never get it,” Berkery says.
This is great advice for learners of any accent in fact, trying out what we've learned in a real life situation. If we don't use it, we will never know how we sound.
Team of Hansa One Directors, Trainers and Instructors sharing experiences and interests on all things cultures and languages.