9 Australian English Phrases You Need to Survive the Outback
So, have you decided to study in Australia?
Are you planning a vacation in the land down under?
You have read about Australia…the fresh food, the gorgeous beaches, the sunshine and, of course, the KILLER ANIMALS!
Killer animals? Yes, we’ve got some of those. People love to talk about how all the animals in Australia want to kill you—everything from the crocodiles and sharks to the spiders, scorpions and snakes. Even the koala bears can attack!
But it’s possible that you’re more afraid of the language (Australian English) than you are of the Australian wildlife.
Your friends have told you all about Australian slang (or at least tried to). They might say “it sounds like another language” or “it’s not even close to English!” Well, let me give you a brief “how to speak Australian” class.
We’ll start by learning about the accent.
How to Speak Australian English
The first and most important thing to remember when practicing your Australian accent is to be lazy. Pronounce words slowly. Make your vowel sounds extra long. Pretend to be very tired when you speak and you’ll sound like a native in no time. It’s not very hard, just give it a try!
Here are three more ways to sound like an Australian when you speak English.
1. Skip letters at the ends of words. Australians skip the letters at the ends of many words. For example “what?” becomes “wha?” Meeting, going and trying change to meetin, goin and tryin.
2. Change letters at the ends of words. You must change the letters at the ends of some words. The words super, after, dinner and order become supah, aftah, dinnah and ordah.
3. Turn “oo” sounds into “ew” sounds. When words are spelled with “oo,” then you need to change the sound you make when you pronounce these words. The best examples of this are pool, school and cool. Australians change these words to pewl, skewl and kewl.
Want to hear how all of this sounds when a native Australian is speaking English? Watch this fun video clip for a great demonstration.
For more examples of Australian English and other regional kinds of English, try FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and more—and turns them into personalized language lessons, so you can learn to understand the language the way people actually speak it.
This word means many things. It can translate to “Hello” or “How are you?” Some people just say it when they make eye contact with another person on the street.
This is the most common Australian slang word you will hear while visiting.
The problem with this word is the pronunciation. It isn’t “good day” or “geh-day.” You have to cut the “g” sound short and emphasize the “day.” Make sure that “day” is drawn out. It sounds similar to “daaey.”
If you master this word, it’s guaranteed that you’ll make many friends!
This is simply a synonym for friend. We usually add this to the word “G’day.”
For example, “G’day mate” means “Hello, friend.” However, you can use “mate” in many other ways. If someone asks you how your weekend was, the typical reply from (male) Australians is “Maaaate.” Used in this way, it means, “OMG! I can’t even start to describe how awesome it was.”
You can also use “mate” when you pass people on the street. If you make eye contact with a stranger, simply nod your head and say “mate” as a simple, casual greeting. This is a friendly way to acknowledge them.
3. How ya going?
This simply means, “How are you?”
“Ya” means “you” and “going” simply refers to how you are: good, sad, angry, excited. “Going” in this context means the act of being alive or existing. So, the person is actually asking how you’re feeling or how your day is/was.
Let’s try using the above three vocabulary words and phrases in a sentence together. They’re often used together as a friendly greeting! For example:
“G’day mate! How ya’ going?”
This word is an interjection. An interjection (also called an exclamation), as you know, may have no grammatical connection to a sentence. An interjection is sometimes followed by an exclamation mark (!). “Crikey,” being an interjection, is almost always followed by an exclamation mark.
Most Australians grow up hearing this word. The word is used as an exclamation of surprise or bewilderment. It can also mean “wow!” For example:
“Crikey! Did you see the size of that snake?”
“Crikey” is mainly used by older generations but became popular again when the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, became famous.
There’s another Australian word that’s a synonym for “crikey.” If you forgot, a synonym is a word or phrase that means the same or nearly the same as another word or phrase. For example, “shut” is a synonym for “close.” In the same way, “streuth” is a synonym for “crikey,” so we can use either one to express the same thing.
“Streuth” has a particular pronunciation, so you need to pay attention to this. It’s pronounced like “Strooooth.”
There’s an emphasis on the “ooo” sound and it must be drawn out (or in other words, pronounce the word in the laziest way you can!). Like the word “crikey,” it’s an exclamation of shock. For example:
“Streuth! You were nearly attacked by a shark?!”
6. Fair dinkum
The word “dinkum” began in the Australian goldfields. “Dinkum” originally came from a Chinese dialect and can be translated to mean “true gold” or “good gold.” There were many Chinese people searching for gold in Australia in the 1800s. Isn’t it interesting to find out that some Australia English has Chinese origins?
It’s an important piece of Australian English so you must be able to use it in the correct way. You say “fair dinkum” when you want to state a fact or truth. For example:
“It’s true mate! Fair dinkum.”
“Fair dinkum! That is a lot of gold.”
7. Heaps good
Young Australians like to replace the word “very” with “heaps.” So, this phrase literally means “very good.”
It shows that something you have done, eaten or achieved is very, very, very good.
Australians are used to hearing teachers say, “very good work, Emma” or parents state “you have been very good today, here is your reward.” Because of this, young Australians became so sick and tired of hearing “very good” that we simply created our own version of the phrase. Adults and seniors understand this phrase, but it’s most commonly used by Australians aged 10-20.
Anne: How was your vacation?
Bob: It was heaps good.
8. Fully sick
If you like the beach, then this word is for you! Use the adverb “fully” and add “sick” to it.
The word “fully” means “completely” or “entirely.” Used alone in a sentence we would say “I fully understand the math equation.” So, we know that this phrase is describing something as “sick” to the fullest extent.
But why sick? Isn’t it bad to be sick? Well, when we say “fully sick,” it doesn’t mean that a person is really sick. It means the opposite!
“Fully sick” means “This is great!” or “very good quality.” Most surfers use this phrase when they talk about the ocean. For example:
Adam: The surf were fully sick today!
Julie: Fully sick!? How big were they?
Adam: They were at least 4 foot. Man, I caught so many fully sick waves!
We can also use this word to describe parties, cars and things that you like.
Adam: Check out my fully sick ride!
Julie: Wow, nice car! Fully sick!
9. True Blue
This is the last phrase and probably the most important one in the Australian vocabulary. This means “the real thing.” The color blue represents loyalty and truth. So the phrase “true blue” describes something as genuine, real and honest.
Watch this video clip by John Williamson. The man is standing and singing in a shed. He’s in the Outback (out in the rural part of Australia). The music video shows many types of Australians: firefighters, business owners, plumbers, electricians and aboriginals. These people are “true blue.” They’re all real, honest Australians.
See if you can pick out any other words that you don’t know. There’s even more Australian slang out there to learn!
To make it easier to understand how you’ll use your new Australian English, here are all the words and phrases you just learned in a sample conversation:
Adam: G’day mate! How ya going? How was your weekend?
John: G’day. Yeah, my weekend was heaps good. I went to the beach and had a barbecue with my mates. It was a true blue weekend.
Adam: Sounds great! How was the beach?
John: The beach was fully sick! Fair dinkum, I caught 5 waves and then took a break. But crikey! I was nearly bitten by a shark!
Adam: Streuth mate! Are you okay? I wished I had come with you, but now I’m glad I didn’t. I’m afraid of sharks.
John: True blue! Next time…see you later!
If you master these Australian English words and phrases, you’ll have no problem speaking to any true blue Australian.
Also, they’ll be so happy and excited that you studied their culture and their unusual language—they’ll definitely invite you to their next barbecue and introduce you to their mates!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you’ll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.
Experience English immersion online!
The 3 Types of Australian Accents
The Australian Accent is renowned for its lack of regional differences. This is perhaps not surprising given that Britain settled the country fairly late in the history of the Empire (New South Wales was discovered over a decade after America’s Declaration of Independence). But it isn’t quite right to say Australian Accents exhibit no variation: those differences just aren’t particularly regional.
So if Australian accents don’t really vary by region, what kind of accent differences do exist? I’d refer you to the loose classification system developed by linguists Arthur Delbridge and A.G. Mitchell in 1965. They separated Australian Accents into broad, general, and cultivated varieties.
Roughly speaking, General accents represent the most common type of English spoken in Australia. Broad accents are usually described as more extreme (and associated with more working-class speech), while Cultivated Australian accents are a prestige variety somewhat closer to the British Received Pronunciation (although actual speakers of the latter are in the minority).
For a frame or reference, these corresponding celebrities might help:
1.) Broad: the late Steve Irwin.
2.) General: Australian PM Julia Gillard.
3.) Cultivated: Cate Blanchett. (Blanchett’s somewhat more “British-Sounding” accent may be a result of her being an actress, but her speech nonetheless resembles this type of elevated Australian speech).
You may disagree with my judgements here, and that’s fine.* Australian English is clearly a continuum, and these three categories are rough markers on that continuum. So how do we sort Australian Accents into these boxes?
A 1997 study in the Australian Journal of Linguistics** offered more precise parameters. The researchers started by making impressionistic judgements about a large number of recorded Australian subjects, placing them into the Broad, General and Cultivated categories. They then analyzed the vowel sounds of these speakers to specify which features correspond to each type of accent.
The results are not terribly surprising. The further on the Broad end of the spectrum that an accent lies, the more markedly, well, “Australian” the features of said accent. Here are the biggest factors:
–The diphthong in “kite,” “ride,” “mine” etc. The more Broad the accent gets, the more this moves toward the diphthong in words like “choice” (i.e. retracted and raised). Hence a Cultivated Australian speaker might pronounce “buy” somewhat close to an RP or General American speaker (i.e. IPA baɪ). A Broad speaker, on the other hand, might pronounce it closer to American “boy” (i.e. IPA bɒe).
–The vowel in “mouth,” “loud” and “out,” etc. The more Broad the accent, the more the first part of this diphthong moves toward the “e” in “dress.” So a Cultivated speaker might have a diphthong closer to GenAm or RP (i.e. IPA aʊ), while a Broad speaker might pronounce it closer to an “eh-aw” sound (i.e. IPA ɛɔ).
Other features include:
–Words like “fleece,” “keep,” etc. are a more pronounced diphthong in Broad Australian accents.
–Words like “face”, and “make” move closer to the diphthong in American/RP “kite” in broad accents.
–Words like “goose” and “food” have a fronter “oo” vowel (presumably closer to IPA ʏ) in Broad accents.
If you’re already acquainted with the shibboleths of the Australian accent, none of this is particularly revealing. I was, however, struck by some interesting differences between men and women. For example, the researchers found more variation in pronunciation of the word “heard” (i.e. the NURSE vowel) among women, but significantly more variation among the word “who’d” (i.e. the GOOSE vowel) in men. So although there are clear class differences within the Australian accents of both genders, these differences are not the same for each sex.
Still unclear to me, though, is the degree to which the Australian accent has developed regional varieties. We’ve had past discussions about the TRAP-BATH split in Australia, which seems to be the main division between various regions in the country. For the most part, however, I only have the vaguest of observations to offer about regional Australian accents (for example, the Melbourne accent seems slightly “clipped” to me).
In this way, Australia exhibits a paradox similar to another of the commonwealth’s largest nations, Canada. Both countries have populations distributed over vast geographical distances, yet have startlingly few regional dialects. What accounts for this contradiction?
*I’m mostly basing this on the degree/frequency to which each speaker retracts and raises the first vowel in words like “price,” “ride,” etc. There’s obviously a lot of variation within the speech of individual speakers.
**Citation: Harrington, J., Cox, F., Evans, Z (1997). An acoustic phonetic study of broad, general, and cultivated Australian English Vowels. Australian Journal of Linguistics 17, 155-184.
Ben T. Smith launched his dialect fascination while working in theatre. He has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. Other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film.
11 Easy Steps for Your Acting Career
So, you got that part in the upcoming film. Or maybe there is a big audition coming up that you need to prepare for. Better yet, you may just want to impress your friends. Either way, your goal calls for a believable Australian accent to be conveyed. But, you do not know how to do an Australian accent.
Learning any accent can be intimidating and even as difficult as learning a new language. However, if you really work at it, it can give you an edge in an audition. It can even open doors to other roles that need someone skilled at using an Australian accent. Within this article you will find many helpful tips that will get you going on your way to reaching a perfect Australian accent.
11 Tips on How to Do an Australian Accent
1. Ignore the Cliché
We have all heard a typical Australian accent in movies such as Crocodile Dundee. They all seem very similar and rough. Though for some regions there is some truth in that accent. However, you do not have to be so bold.
Instead, when learning how to do an Australian accent, opt for a more subtle approach. Learn the ins and outs that make your accent not only believable but accurate as well. Cliché phrases such as, Crikey, or Throw another shrimp on the barbie, will likely get you more eye rolls than parts.
2. Say Goodbye to the Letter R
Well, do not completely say goodbye. The letter R, when used with an Australian accent, is dropped or some say softened if it as the end of a word. For example, in the word car, the R loses its hard sound and will instead use a softer ah ending. Thus, the new pronunciation will be cah.
This simple step is key in figuring out how to do an Australian accent. Oddly enough, it is also a good first step in learning to speak like a New Englander too. This part of learning the accent can even become addicting. You may even realize you are thinking about the words and how they should be pronounced before you utter them.
3. Shorten Everything You Can
When learning how to do an Australian accent you may realize that a good portion of the language has been shortened. When learning how to do an Australian accent, words are shortened to the bare minimum. Longer words like afternoon get chopped and you have the word arvo instead. So instead of saying, What do you guys got going on this afternoon? You will say, What d,yous got goin’ on this arvo?
Another typical type of word shortening you will see is using and ie at the end of any word. Some examples are: breakfast becomes brekkie, sunglasses will become sunnies, etc.
4. Diphthong- Use it
I know, I know, it sounds like we are talking about underwear or something to dip chips in. I assure you we are not. A diphthong is actually something that has to do with the phonetics of a sound. It is when 2 vowels smash together into one singular sound.
The most commonly used diphthongs you will come across while learning how to do an Australian accent is used for the letter I. In the United States, this letter sounds like eye. However, when used in conjunction with an Australian accent, the letter I takes on a marriage of two sounds including oh and ee. The result is a sound that comes across as aw-Ee. Get this particular language nuance down and you will be one big step closer to sounding like you are from down undah.
When learning any accent, it is extremely helpful to take the time to listen to a native speaker. Watch films that feature the accent you are emulating and really pay attention to the shapes their mouth make as they pronounce the words. Pick up on any repetitive sounds and words, especially within the vowels. Learn from them.
Not all Australian accents have to be animated and messy. Most accents you hear will be much smoother and mellow. Australia was inhabited by colonists from the Southern parts of England. Thus, you may see some similarities between Australian and Cockney accents. You can also listen to webcasts and on the street interviews to get a really good listen to some natural and raw accents.
6. Go with the Flow
Try to keep your accent running smoothly like a river that streams long, constant, and steady. Think of your sentence as one really long word.
Australian accents are much less rhythmic than other accents and require an even flowing sound.
7. Change Your Inflection
Ask yourself a question out loud. Do you hear how there is a slight raise in your tone towards the end? You may notice this happen during normal sentences when you use an Australian accent. It is sometimes called the Australian Question Inflection. However, instead of just being a louder and slightly higher sound found at the end of a question, you can hear it in every day speech.
8. Use as to End Your Sentence
Many Australian speakers will use as at the end of a sentence to add emphasis to what they are saying. For example, This pizza is great as. While an American speaker will finish the thought, and Australian speaker will leave it open ended.
9. College Studies
Though not an option financially for all, a trip abroad will really immerse you in the language and culture you are trying to imitate. When learning how to do an Australian accent, immersion is the greatest way to reflect a nation’s culture. You may find yourself naturally using an accent by the end of your trip.
Australia is a very popular destination for students from America to study abroad. This is usually done during your college years with your junior year being ideal. There is a strong alliance between the US and Australia. So it is typically pretty easy to obtain the necessary clearance to spend a semester, or even a year, to study in Australia. If you want to start even earlier in your schooling career, you can apply to be a foreign exchange student during your high school years.
10. Work Visa
If you are between 18 and 30, you can also get a work visa to spend a year working and residing in the country. You do not need sponsorship. But if you have a university degree, you are more likely to appeal to specific companies or receive approval to work a specific job. It is easy to apply, just use the online forms to be considered. Australia has some breathtaking scenery and amazing places to work. So you may never want to leave.
This is especially true if you are a nature lover. You can apply to volunteer and take advantage of the opportunities available. There are many conservation areas that you can apply to so that you can work to preserve nature and work with animals. From a few weeks to a few months, there are a variety of prospects available for volunteers to take benefit from.
Gotham City Hall, Movie world Gold Coast, Australia
11. Practice, Practice, Practice
Step out in public to test out your new accent. Stop at a local restaurant or coffee shop that you may not frequent often. Try out your Australian accent on the unsuspecting wait staff. If it is convincing, someone may ask you where you are from. If your accent needs some work, you may see a confused or unconvinced look from your server. You can let them in on the fun or keep your practice time going. Either way you will get either some great practice time in or some constructive criticism.
Another way to practice is to repeat sentences while you are watching a film or interview that features a native speaker. You can even record yourself and play it back. This way you can better compare your accent to the speaker and see where you need to adjust. You can also use this technique by recording yourself reading a book in your accent. Replay your recording to be able to critique yourself.
Learning any accent can be a daunting task, especially if you have a deadline. Regardless of the reason you want to imitate an accent, it takes practice. Remove all preconceived notions you have learned from watching scenes that represent stereotypical examples. If at all possible, get a total immersion experience by visiting the country and getting involved in the culture through all aspects of your life. Even if a trip is not an option in your situation, you can still observe. Also, listen to recordings, films, and interviews in order to really study the accent. Using these tips and techniques can show you how to do an Australian accent in no time.
Have you ever gone down under to study or work? How did you develop your accent accurately? Do you have more tips or experiences to share? Please feel free to leave helpful comments for others who may be looking to develop their own accents.
The images are from depositphotos.com.
australian accent | Australian Voices
For some other interesting examples of the changing Australian English accent, visit in the past.
a marker of national identity
The Australian accent is a very powerful and important marker of national identity. Speakers display their Australian heritage through their accent.
When talking about speech it is important that we think in terms of sounds that a person uses rather than how particular words are spelled because spelling does not give a clear indication of pronunciation. For instance, the spoken word «walk» contains just three sounds and there is no «l» sound in the spoken word, the word «music» has six sounds, and «anchor» has four sounds despite having six letters in the written word. The word «far» spoken by an Australian English speaker has just two sounds and doesn’t have an «r» sound at the end. In this word, the letter «r» is not pronounced unless the word is followed by another one that starts with a vowel as in «far away».
Click on the following links to learn about how to identify and describe speech sounds:
The International Phonetic Association
Macquarie University Phonetics and Phonology Transcription Materials
Bachelor of Speech and Hearing Sciences
To describe an accent we carefully consider the kinds of vowels and consonants that are used and how these are put together into words and phrases. It’s also important to think about the stress and intonation patterns that are used.
accents vary according to:
- system of sounds: the number and type of sounds that are used to make words (phonemic system). Australian English has the same phonemic system as Southern British English but differs from American English.
- phonetics: what the sounds are like. This relates to the characteristics of the individual sounds (phones) but also to how the sounds vary in different contexts (allophones).
- phonotactics: how sounds go together in the structure of words. For instance, Australian English does not have «r» sounds before consonants or pauses but Irish English does.
- lexical characteristics: what sounds occur in particular words. For example, in Australian English some people pronounce the word «dance» with the vowel that is in the word «cat» and others may use the vowel in the word «cart».
- suprasegmentals: what intonation patterns are present.
The vowel system is one of the strongest features used to differentiate accents.
Speakers of Standard Australian English do not all sound the same. There are regional differences, age related differences, and social differences.
In the past, accent variation in Standard Australian English was described with reference to a continuum of broadness, ranging from the most local type (Broad Australian) through to a more British sounding type (Cultivated Australian). An intermediate category, General Australian, was the most common type.
Broad Australian General Australian Cultivated Australian
Speakers were assigned to the Broadness categories mainly according to their pronunciation of six main vowels. These are the vowel sounds in the words «beat, boot, say, so, high, how».
Over the past 40 years, Australian English speakers have gradually moved towards the centre of this broadness continuum. The majority of younger speakers today use a General type of Australian English.
The move away from the Cultivated type is probably related to the shift in linguistic affiliation from a British external standard to an Australian internal standard of English. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, Australian English became increasingly accepted as the standard form of English used in this country. This acceptance was paralleled by Australian independence in a global marketplace.
Cultivated Australian increasingly became associated with British affiliation, affectation and effeminacy. As the 20th century progressed, fewer social advantages were to be gained by speaking with a Cultivated Australian English accent.
Broad Australian English also lost some ground. This form symbolised republicanism, mateship, larrikinism, and egalitarianism. However, it was the most stigmatised form having connotations of ockerism and a lack of sophistication. A move away from the Broad may also have been related to a shift in Australia’s sense of place in the world. It has also been suggested that Broad may have decreased as a result of association with a foreign accent variety used by migrants from Southern Europe in the post-WWII era.
The General type was uniquely Australian but without the undesirable connotations associated with either Cultivated or Broad. It became the new standard.
Accent variation in Australia today cannot be adequately described with reference to the broadness continuum. Recent research shows that there is now new variation that is separate from these traditional categories.
Every person will speak differently in different situations. This is called speaking style. There is a range of styles from very casual and informal through to very precise and formal. All speakers are capable of producing formal and informal speech. Style varies according to the situational context and depends on who you are speaking to, what you are speaking about and where you are speaking. Formal style is usually characterised by a greater proportion of prestigious elements including more carefully articulated speech. Formal speaking style is more carefully monitored by the speaker and has the listener in mind (hyperarticulation). Casual speech is less carefully monitored (hypoarticulation) and is speaker-centred rather than listener-centred. We all have a range of voices from which to select the most appropriate for any given situation.
Cox, F., & Palethorpe, S. (2001). The changing face of Australian English vowels. In D. B. Blair & P. Collins (Eds.), Varieties of English Around the World: English in Australia (pp. 17-44). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Horvath, B. M. (1985). Variation in Australian English: The sociolects of Sydney. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
How to Speak English Without an Accent and Sound Like a Native
There’s nothing more frustrating than not being understood.
I lived in South Korea for four years. During that time, I took Korean lessons at the local university and practiced my speaking skills every day.
And no matter how hard I tried to master the Korean language, there were always people who couldn’t understand me because of my accent.
Even if your pronunciation is almost perfect, some people will have a problem understanding you because of your accent.
It’s not because you’re speaking poorly, but because they’re simply not expecting you to have an accent, so it confuses them.
For this reason, many English language learners try to lose their foreign accent and talk like a first-language English speaker.
Continue reading to learn how you can do this too.
Why Mastering Your English Accent Is Important
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that everyone has an accent, even English speakers.
Accents are great.
They add personality to English, and without them, conversations would be boring. However, not all accents are easy for the average English speaker to understand, which is why it’s a good idea to learn how to speak like a native English speaker.
Mastering English pronunciation and intonation is the first step towards speaking English without a foreign accent.
Just remember that speaking like a native isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s going to take a lot of time and practice. But if you work hard and continue to improve your speaking, you’ll begin to notice that people have an easier time understanding your English in conversations!
Which English Speaker Do You Want to Sound Like?
Native English speakers have different accents depending on where they’re from. You need to choose the type of accent that you want to learn and stick to it. Otherwise, you run the risk of mixing up two or more English accents and sounding even more confusing.
The three most common accents that you’ll come across in ESL material are American (AmE), British (UK) and Australian (AUS) accents. Click the links below to see an example of each accent.
As you can see, all three accents are different from each other, which is why you want to stick with mastering only one accent at a time.
You can find more authentic listening practice at FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Use the videos to listen to different accents in the wild. And don’t forget all the other resources FluentU makes available to language-learners: flashcards, vocabulary lists, annotated subtitles, and much more!
While not impossible, learning how to speak English like a native will take a lot of time and practice—especially for adults. For whatever reason, studies show that children master pronunciation and learn second languages easier than adults. So, if your goal is to teach your child how to speak English without an accent, you should get them practicing as early as possible.
If you want to learn how to speak English without an accent, here are some resources to help you get started.
1. Listen to Your Target Accent
Mastering a native English accent requires you to listen to native speakers and practice speaking with their intonation and pronunciation.
For best results, make sure to actually practice using the accent while listening to podcasts and watching television shows. The best way to do this is to pause and repeat what speakers are saying over and over again. You can also record yourself and listen to how you speak, then compare it to the accents you’re listening to.
If you don’t have any English speakers you can speak with, try listening to podcasts for practice.
- Podcasts for English Language Learners (AmE and UK): In this post, we list some of our favorite British and American English podcasts.
- OzPodcasts (AUS): This directory of Australian podcasts covers a wide range of topics led by authentic Australian English speakers.
Another great way to improve your accent is by watching television shows.
- British and American TV Shows for Learning English (AmE and UK): Both American and British TV is popular worldwide, so you won’t have any problems finding television shows from these two countries. In this post, you can find some of the best shows to learn English, as well as places to watch them online.
- “The Katering Show” (AUS): For a good Australian TV show, take a look at this one. It’s a comedy about two food lovers with very different personalities who find themselves in a number of unusual situations. Episodes can be watched online by visiting the website and scrolling halfway down the page.
2. Practice Pronunciation with YouTube
Good pronunciation is important for talking like a native speaker. Unfortunately, many students skip past textbook pronunciation exercises for other activities, like grammar and vocabulary.
The good news is that practicing pronunciation doesn’t have to be as boring as listen-and-repeat exercises found in textbooks. Here are three YouTube channels that make English pronunciation fun and engaging:
- Speak English with Vanessa (AmE): A great channel with pronunciation lessons on how to speak like an American.
- BBC Learning English’s (UK): More than 100 videos dedicated to pronunciation and how to speak in a standard British accent.
- Aussie English (AUS): Learn a little about Australia and Australian culture while watching more than 40 videos teaching you how to talk like an Australian.
3. Become Aware of Intonation
Everyone knows that good pronunciation is important for learning how to speak English like a native, but many students make the mistake of focusing only on their pronunciation and ignoring intonation completely.
Intonation is the tone you speak in and the stress you put on different parts of a word. English speakers have different intonations depending on where they’re from. For example, when saying “garage,” an American English speaker will say “ga-RAGE,” whereas a South African English speaker says “GAR-age.”
Using the wrong intonation doesn’t only confuse native English speakers, it can also change the meaning of your sentence completely. Also, people will know you’re not a first-language English speaker from incorrect intonation much easier than they will if you mispronounce a word or two.
Take a look at this video to see an example of what it sounds like to have good pronunciation and incorrect intonation. While the gentleman in the video clip thinks he doesn’t have an accent, his intonation immediately gives him away as an English language learner. Granted, he speaks just fine and is understood just as easily as a native speaker, but he does have an accent.
4. Practice to Improve Intonation
You can practice your intonation in the same way you improve your pronunciation: by listening to native speakers and repeating what they say while trying to sound like them.
Except with intonation, you’re not focusing on how they’re saying vowels and consonants, but rather how they’re saying entire words—whether they’re being louder at the beginning or the end of the word or if their voice sounds higher or lower at the end of a sentence.
Some good YouTube channels to help you practice your intonation include:
Remember, the only way you’re going to speak English without an accent is by practicing. Try speaking in English every chance you can get. Talk to your friends, chat with English speakers online and talk to yourself if you have to—just make sure that you’re always speaking English.
The more you listen to native speakers talk and imitate their pronunciation and intonation, the easier it’ll be for you to speak English like a native.
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How to talk with an Indian accent
Having spent many years in the US, I have often been told that I speak “without an accent.” Of course it is impossible to speak without any accent. For example, broadly we can say that some people have American, British, or Indian accents which can be further divided into regional accents like Bostonian, Cockney, or received Benglish. If you talk like an Oxford hack, an editor at the Economist might say that you have no accent, because it wouldn’t be noticeable to him or her.
Sacha Baron Cohen. His name-a-Borat. Naaat
What does it mean to be told that you don’t have an accent? It is a polite way of saying that you weren’t wearing the tee-shirt with “I am proud to be an Indian” in huge block letters printed over an elephant that day. And your new acquaintance made an honest mistake of not being able to figure out both your ethnicity and nationality in under 10 milliseconds.
But there is also a bit of suspicion that you notice in his or her eyes. Is that really the way you talk or do you have an amorphous call-center accent that changes with each client? In other words, are you sincere or are you faking it?
There is nothing worse than having an insincere accent. You turn into a caricature if you try to ape Paul Hogan’s Australian “G’day mate” from Crocodile Dundee or Leonardo DiCaprio’s South African Archer spelled “ay ah- see-aich-e-ah” from Blood Diamond. Foster’s may be Oztrayl-yun for beyah, but you’ll be in the middle of a diplomatic crisis if you try to say it with a straight face in Melbourne these days.
Some can actually make fake accents cool. I don’t blame you if wish you had Prince Julian’s suave Indian accent as he crooned “I like to move it, mov