Julian Northbrook sends daily email tips for speaking better English – Click the button on the right, sign up, and you'll get a new email every day packed with ideas and tips for speaking better English.

Filed Under

Which English Accent Is Hardest to Understand?

August 1, 2018 , by Dr Julian Northbrook

Interesting question ー

“Which English accent is hardest to understand for you?”

I’ll give you my answer in a moment.

But first, have a think about this. That there IS an accent which is HARD for a native English speaker to understand is very, very important for you. People learning English often complain about understanding all the different accents.

But it ain’t just you.

Accents can be just as hard to understand for native speakers, too.

Well, if we’re not used to them.

For example, I’ve been to Cork in Ireland several times, and find the accent really easy to understand.

But up in Dublin?

Now that’s a different kettle of fish.

Twice I took a taxi, and twice I had NO IDEA what the taxi driver was rambling on about. They had strong accents (meaning different to what I’m used to) and they seemed to speak really, really fast. Of course, they didn’t. It just felt like that because I couldn’t catch the sounds quick enough.

Also high on my list are parts of Scotland the Highlands or Glasgow, for example.

People from Edinburgh?

No problem whatsoever. In fact the Edinburgh accent is very precise and refined. But a stone’s throw away in Glasgow?

Not. A. Chance.

Then there’s the farmers out down in Devon and Cornwall where I grew up?

Don’t. Even. Bother.

Nobody ain’t knowin’ wot he be saying.

That said, it turns out accents are actually pretty easy to learn. IF you know how to do it (not automatic to be sure, but not complicated).

Wanna know how to nail any accent (or accents) you like?

Well, you’re in luck.

Because last week I interviewed actress, singer and accent genius Amy Walker. She’s known for her ability to slip in and out of almost any accent you can imagine. And she was good enough to totally lay bare her entire system for getting really good at any accent. Like, indistinguishable from someone who grew up speaking that accent. Even if you’ve struggled with sounding “correct” before. Or speak a language that doesn’t have the same sounds as English. Or don’t live in an English speaking country.

Now, if you’re an EES member you’ll be able to access this interview.

But I’m also writing a new book.

It’s called “Nail Your English Accent”. It’s a compilation of all the things I’ve learned from interviewing accent experts over the years.

It’s out on September 1st, and you can (and should) pre-order your copy here.


P.S. I must admit, listening to Amy talk changed my mind about accents a lot.

I always thought of them as fairly uninteresting and even unimportant.

But Amy changed my mind.

Pre-order your copy of NYEA here.



Subscribe to Dr Julian Northbrook's Daily Emails for Speaking Better English & get FREE access to the Doing English App, packed with free lessons:

view pixel

More Shizzle on the Blog: