(1/2) British Accent and American Accent

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Nov 18, 2019 00:09
Last month I started attending a 40-day online workshop on the British accent(s). Technically speaking, it’s an online course taught by a Chinese guy who alleged that several years earlier he’d been to the UK and participated in an intensive training camp on “Received Pronunciation” organized by a local Shakespearean association.

Back in my school years, most English teachers in China taught with a "British accent.” In hindsight, I wouldn’t say it was a “British accent”; it was in fact the Chinese accent leaning towards a British accent. The two accents just shared some features such as not having the R sound and flap T (as in waTer) that are the distinctive patterns of the American accent.

After picking up an American accent for a few years, for some reason I wanted to brush up on my British accent. I first looked through quite a few YouTubers tutoring with a British accent but I found their courses to be generic. The courses I was looking for were those that went deeper. If there existed a quality course tailored for Chinese people, I’d even be willing to pay for it. Then I happened to read a WeChat blog post in which the author advertised his own British accent course. He added a link of him reciting a Shakespearean sonnet to show how qualified he was. Honestly speaking, he did a great job. His excellent performance made him sound trustworthy so I signed up for his course for around 200 US dollars.

The teacher promised to keep the class “small-sized” so that every student would have a chance to get their daily work corrected or commented upon. Enrollment was limited to 50 students and it didn’t take long for the class to get full. And it was said that before this class there’d been already 15 classes held end-on-end over the past two years….

On the first day of the course, I was invited to a WeChat group where we were asked to introduce ourselves. Although we could speak to WeChat, most students texted their introductions (in Chinese), talking about their professions and the reasons why they wanted to study the British accent.

“I’m pretty into Shakespearean theater, so I want to pick up a British accent…”

“I think the British accent is graceful [sic] …..”

“I’ve been speaking American English and I want to switch to RP”

“…. speaking American English for many years, and I want to study the British accent…”

“I want to switch from American English to British English….”

Reading their comments, a whispered voice came to mind: Are you serious? Are you sure you guys have been speaking with American accents?
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