As a Brazilian who has been deeply influenced by the American accent, I know how it feels when you arrive in Britain and you can’t understand a word. Like any other country, the accent can change according to the region, so it’s important to remember that there are a lot of accents inside the British accent, such as the southern and northern accent in England, the Scottish accent, the Irish accent, the Welsh accent and so on. Don’t be discouraged if you cannot understand the Scottish accent, for instance, I don’t understand it either; I couldn’t watch Outlander (the TV show) without subtitles, and neither my English husband.
The same situation happens in our own country, right? I have relatives all over Brazil and when I visit my grandfather in the North, I swear to God, if he speaks fast, I can’t understand him. So don’t feel bad if you are struggling with the accent, the trick is to keep trying because eventually, you will get it.
What can I do to improve my listening to understand the accent better?
Learning isn’t easy for anyone but the listening part in my opinion is the most difficult one. When you can’t understand something your brain refuses it in a way that hurts and that’s why many people give up listening or watching something in another language. However dear students, I have bad news for you today, if you really want to improve your listening you will have to deal with the headache and sometimes the dizziness.
Is there any way to make it easier?
I wouldn’t use the word “easy”, but you can make it more pleasant by choosing wisely what you are going to listen to. For example, if you don’t like sports, there’s no reason to try to watch a Football documentary. If you don’t like science, there’s no point listening to a podcast about it. Some people say that you have to listen to a little bit of everything to expand your vocabulary, I do agree with that, but only when you’re confident enough with your listening.
My tip for you today is: choose things that you like and watch or listen to them over and over again. I know all the lines of Jurassic Park, The Mummy, Lord of Rings and I know those lines not only because I was practicing my English, but because I love these films. So pick films that you like and make them your soundtrack.
I have selected here 10 of my favorite British Films, try to watch at least a few of them and see how you get along with the accent:
Darkest Hour (2017)
This film is set during the second world war and highlights the struggles of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill where he has to decide between sign a peace treaty with Adolf Hitler or continuing the war. If you like History and if you are looking for a film to expand your knowledge about the second world war, this is a good one.
Staring by Cate Blanchett, this is another great film to help you with both History and Accent. This film details the ascension to the throne and the early reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Notting Hill (1999)
This is a very famous one. It’s about a British bookseller who falls in love with an American actress (Julia Roberts). If you like romantic comedies you must include this one on your list, you won’t regret it.
The King’s speech (2010)
I love this film! It is based on a true story and I don’t really know how much is true, but it’s amazing. It details the challenges of a stutterer king during the second world war. It’s one of my favourite dramas.
Victoria & Abdul (2017)
It’s not even closer to be my favourite, however, I’ve decided to include it because it’s a film where you can clearly see the difference between a British accent and an Indian accent. It is a good film, but in my personal opinion it is too long, however, it’s a relaxing good film.
Christopher Robin (2018)
I think I will never grow older and if you feel the same it means that you also love kid’s films. This is a lovely family film that, in my opinion, will never go out of fashion. This film talks about the cute bear Winnie the Pooh, who asks Christopher Robin (a very busy father) to help him to find his lost friends. If you, like me, have a kid inside of you, you must watch this film!
Lock stock and two smoking barrels (1998)
A gritty yet amusing look at London’s seedy underbelly. This is a British gangster film that launched Guy Richie and Jason Statham to fame. The film weaves a collection of storylines into one super-entertaining meeting point that is a little reminiscent of Pulp Fiction.
Laced with so many American actors including a great cameo from Robert Dinero, you could argue it’s not that British. But it does start in a picturesque English village and follows a young man on a journey from rural England into a fantasy world that reminds me of a journey to neverland. This film however is not a children’s story and is a much more romantic comedy, with the classic trope of the main character going on a mission to win the heart of the girl he loves, only to find love on the way; date night top pick!
There are many King Arthur films, but this my favourite because of the excellent take on the character of Merlin. At the time, this certainly would have been a darker take on the legend, and I’d say that still holds today. Certainly, less likely to be a crowd-pleaser than the other films on this list, but if swords and shields are your cup of tea, you’ll like it!