PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

Everyone has an accent! Part II - or How can I make myself understood???

So, I suppose you have read our blog post last week and watched a Youtube video talking about different accents in the UK (if you haven’t just check it!)

Well, take a look at this clip from the hilarious Hot Fuzz (2007):

There are many reasons why someone may not understand your accent and it’s not only the individual pronunciation of words. What we call an accent can vary from sentence structure and word choice to pronunciation features, such as rhythm, intonation, sentence and word stress, and, finally, the pronunciation of specific words. Simon Pegg’s character struggles to understand David Bradley’s (yes, he’s also Argus Filch in the Harry Potter series) because he speaks another variety of English (closer to RP) and also because he’s not used to that other variety (and even the man’s particular way of speaking).

Right, so what can we do to help you be better understood and become more fluent?

At Peartree, we practise all features of pronunciation that will help you sound more natural in English, while helping you to develop your listening skills to cope with a variety of common accents (not only British or native).


I wrote about that a while ago (check the link:

People may not understand you because you are using a rhythm that is not natural to English. For example, a syllabic rhythm (like in Spanish or Italian) while English usually focusses on the stress of ‘important’ (or content) words (nouns, main verbs, adjectives, adverbs and a few others).

The sentence: ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ may sound more like ‘ wʤʊlaɪkə kʌpə ti:’?’ (Here’s the link to a phonemic chart to help you out:

The syllables in bold mark the rhythm that follows the ‘important’ words (as if you were counting one, two, three - you can even clap your hands as you follow the rhythm: like, cup, tea).


Usually, in English we have a rising intonation when asking yes or no questions:

Do you need some help? 

While we have a falling intonation when making statements or Wh- questions:

What do you need? 

I need some help. 


There are many features that may cause misunderstandings when someone is learning English, mainly sounds that are distinctive:

New sounds - Sounds you do not have in your own language and may not be familiar with (like the sound /θ/ as in ‘thin’ or ‘three’ (not present in Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and French, for example). For example, the difference between ‘thick’ and ‘sick’ or ‘tick’.

Long and short vowels - English makes a distinction between long and short vowel sounds. For example, ‘live’ /lɪv/ and ‘leave’ /li:v/, which may not be too obvious for some languages.

Voiced and unvoiced consonants - Some consonants are pronounced only with the air that comes out of your lungs, and the articulation of your tongue and lips (unvoiced), while others also have a vibration of the vocal cords (voiced). Notice the difference between ‘sip’ and ‘zip’, or ‘fan’ and ‘van’, and if you put your hand on your throat you can feel the vibration when you say /z/ or /v/.

These are a few examples of common features that are very important when speaking and listening to English. With the help of a phonemic chart and visual aids (showing you how to pronounce the sounds), your teacher can help you pronounce the words in a way that people can understand you better and make you sound more natural.

Would you like to work on your accent and become more confident when speaking English? Join us at Peartree Languages.
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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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