Understanding Different English Accents

It is great that English is spoken by so many people around the world, but this can make it very difficult to understand, because there are such a range of different accents.

In today's activity we use a website called The Speech Accent Archive to listen to different accents and compare them.


  • Your first activity is to listen to this audio file and try to write down what you hear. This speaker is from the UK and has an accent from around Oxfordshire.
  • Once you have listened a number of times and written down the complete text you can check here to see if it is correct. You will see both the written text and phonetic transcription.
  • Now you can listen to the same text again spoken by a variety of other nationalities. Listen to each one and try to decide what nationality they are:






Now click the links below to check your answers.

Now if you go to the link to the Atlas, you can try to find the same recording of an English speaker from your country. Atlas link

Just click on the atlas to go to the continent you come from, then click on the flag which is closest to you.

You can then listen to the speaker from your country and compare the accent to one of the other countries. You might want to see if you can hear important differences between the accent from your country and the accent of a country you want to visit. You can compare the phonemic script too and try to spot the differences. here's the script of a man from the UK.

I hope you find this activity useful. Be sure to listen to some of the other accents too and try to record your own accent and listen to the differences. You don't have to change your accent, but being aware of differences can help you to understand more.

Related links for teachers:

Nik Peachey


Guido said...

Hi Nik,
I´m a regular follower of all your blogs and you always manage to surprise with fresh ideas and links to places to discover. Good on you! Have another listen to speakers 2-5 in this post, though. Aren´t they all the same bloke from saskatoon?
All the best, Guido

Nik Peachey said...

Don't think so, though on the atlas the two accents from Scotalnd (One Glasgow and one Edinburgh are the wrong way around I'm sure.



Anonymous said...

I have to say this activity was pretty fun to do. Thank you so much for posting it.


Camilla said...

Looking for samples of English spoken by Chinese to help a student I was delighted to come across your website which I have just spent an hour and a half exploring! I have even tried out some exercises, tested many links and watched a couple of video tutorials. I am most impressed and plan to recommend it to both colleagues and students. However, Guido, on 25th July is right: speakers 2 to 5 are most definitely one and the same person. In the corresponding biographical data for number 2, the sex of the speaker is female!
Best wishes and "bonne continuation",

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Camilla

Thanks so muh for the comments. Will try to sort out the problem with the audios, but can't understand it as they are correct on my computer.



elizabeth_anne said...

I find this super interesting for people involved in linguistics. What a pity the original text is too localised (with its snow peas, scooping into bags and go meeting) I can't see my EFL students getting their head around it.
But Ninjawords ... wow !

My Books & Lesson Plans