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How to learn accents for voiceover work

Expand your casting opportunities by mastering accents with the help of this platform and a host of experts.

"It has been my pleasure to meet and work with Henry and Sam from spikizi - a global community-led accent and dialect app"

Guy Michaels - Director of Voiceover Kickstart

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How to learn accents for voiceover work


by Henry Regan at spikizi

1 - Listen to as many native speakers as possible

It's important to be specific, with so much competition for jobs coupled with the accessibility to the vast amount of resources that we have today, there is no excuse.  Find a few people to model your accent off and then whittle it down to one of them.  Be consistent in the sounds and really listen to those differences to your own accent.

2 - Use the IPA to work out the sounds (it's not the only way but it helps)

To be consistent you need to have a structure to follow.  Using the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) works for some people, it doesn't for others, whatever way you learn best, don't forget that the theory is also an important part of the learning process.  It means you have something to go back to when you're struggling.

3 - Speak the accent out loud, repeat, repeat, repeat

The theory is great but once you have that down it's about repeating it over and over again, this will help solidify it. Find out where it sits in your mouth, this can be really useful when you have to re-learn an accent as well.

4 - Try different texts, improv, sing in that accent, push yourself out of your comfort zone

Throwing constant curveballs at yourself is the only way of protecting yourself when it happens on the job.  Things may happen that are out of your control so make sure it's a switch you can turn on and off in any scenario.  To do this read books on politics, talk to your kids in the accent, go to a shop and pretend to speak in that accent; that way you're pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into reality.

5 - If you have the time and the resources then speak to an accent coach to really fine-tune it

Accent coaches seem to have a sense of mystery surrounding them, but actually, most of them are incredibly intelligent and well-trained individuals.  It's important to make sure they have completed formal training and it's not really a skill you can just 'pick up'.  Don't forget that they are humans too and are very approachable so if you have the time and resources to try one then you should do it, it might be the deciding factor to secure that voiceover or acting job!

If you want to know how to learn accents for voiceover work, it's worth spending some time on researching the history and origins of a particular accent!

What is the difference between accent and dialect?

Accent is how a person's voice sounds, while dialect is the vocabulary and grammar of a specific region.  Dialect can be regional or social - for example, African American Vernacular English (AAVE).  There are many different accents in America including Southern US English, New England US English, California US English, Midwestern US English.  In Great Britain there are around 40 different dialects

How Many English Accents Are There In The World?

The four main English accents are British, Australian, American and Canadian.  There are also a few other regional accents such as Scottish, Irish and Welsh.  Of course, there's also 'Indian English' (spoken by approx 125 million Indians) and others.

Accents can be broken down into two categories - broad or narrow.  Broad accents have more of an emphasis on the vowels while narrow accents focus on consonants.

One of the most famous accents in the world is Received Pronunciation (also known as RP) which originated from England's upper class society.  However, it is estimated that today, just 3% of the British population speak with this traditional RP.  RP itself has variations too!

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