Below is a full example kit so you can see what you will get
Aged 35 | Born 1980
The Accent Kit contains the following five elements.
Need more guidance? Tap the question mark on the top right of each section
The speaker telling a 1-3 minute story of personal interest
Listen to the speaker telling a 2/3 minute story in their natural ‘connected speech’
Pause the recording after small chunks and ‘echo’ what you hear
Notice if some sounds change in connected speech, compared to their formal ‘reading’ style
Listen out for vowels from the WORD LIST
Listen out for the 6 CONSONANTS
Notice the natural rhythm, tune and energy of their speech
Hum along to the tunes they use
Do they step or slide from note to note?
Does it sound ‘major’ or ‘minor’? Is the pace rapid or slow?
Beat out the rhythm, and feel it in your body
Feel the energy and dynamics in your mouth
The SETTING, ZONE and TONE of the accent
These are the anchor for your accent. Build your foundations well, hold them in place, and the structure of your accent will be solid.
There are three elements to your foundations:
1. SETTING - FEEL IT: Listen to the hesitation sound. It is the sound you make when you are thinking out loud. This is the neutral, relaxed setting of the vocal tract (lips, jaw, tongue, soft palate etc) in the accent. Feel what you need to change in your vocal tract to find this new ‘neutral’ setting; thinner lips? tighter jaw? smaller space? Make this new setting ‘home’ as you speak.
2. ZONE - SEE IT: Look at the diagram and see where the sound vibrates in the vocal tract for the new accent. Visualise aiming for this zone as you speak.
3. TONE - HEAR IT: Listen to the speaker counting to 10. Listen to the tone of the accent without listening to the words. How could you describe it? Perhaps a colour, an instrument or mood. Mimic this tone and sustain it as you speak.
Put the three together and you have your accent foundations. You can start with whichever works best for you!
Vowels: Words & Sentences
The vowel sounds you need for the shape of your accent
Each sentence gives you a repetition of the vowel sound in a word from the WORD LIST.
Mimic the speaker and practice the shape of the vowels in each sentence.
Use the sentences to practice the shape in words with different spellings.
Use the sentences to practice your most challenging new vowel shapes.
THE WORD LIST AND HOW TO USE IT
The word list will show you all the vowel shapes an accent uses.
Each key word (KIT etc) acts like a label on a box. All the words in that box will share the same vowel shape as the key word (KIT LISTED BUSY etc)
* Listen to the speaker reading the word list.
* Mimic the speaker and notice differences in SHAPE, LENGTH and MOVEMENT of the vowels compared to your own accent.
NB: Accents are in constant states of flux. The BATH and PALM sets are especially unpredictable and may not follow as uniform a pattern as other sets!
* Identify the key areas of difference and focus your practice on these sets and shapes.
* Use the vowel sentences to expand your practice and to focus on the most challenging shapes.
The Word List was originally devised by the phonetician J.C. Wells
All Vowel Words
The six key consonant sounds that can make or break your accent
Here are six consonant patterns that can make or break your accent.
Notice the patterns the speaker is using.
R - Do they say every R or only before a vowel? What kind of R is it?
L - Are they light, dark, a W substitute or a combination?
TH - Do they change to F-V, T-D or S-Z?
NG - Are they smilen, smilin, smilín, smiling or smilink?!
H - Do they drop or not?
PTK - Do any disappear and become a glottal stop?
Speak the sentences. Mimic the speaker and compare how similar or different they sound and feel to your own. Practice the new patterns.
NB: Be sure to listen for these patterns in the FREE SPEECH recording. Speakers often give away more patterns when they are being less formal!
The speaker reading a set text, combining all the speech sounds of the accent for you to practice
It is essential to have a practice text other than your script.
* Listen and mimic chunk by chunk.
* What differences do you hear? What differences do you feel going on in your mouth? How does the tune and rhythm differ from your own? What do the setting, zone and tone feel like (see FOUNDATIONS)?
* Read the new accent. Listen, compare, and be your own judge. Go back and work on the bits that are wobbly!
Arthur the rat was originally developed in 1890 by the phonetician Henry Sweet. It has all the combined sounds of spoken English. It exists in many online versions: this is ours.
Once you can speak this whole text in the accent you know you are good to go!
One rainy day, the rats heard a great noise in the loft where they lived. The pine rafters were all rotten in the middle, and at last one of the joists had given way and fallen to the ground. The walls shook and all the rats’ hair stood on end with fear and horror. ‘This won’t do,’ said the old rat who was chief, ‘I’ll send out scouts to search for a new home.’
Three hours later the seven tired scouts came back and said, ‘We have found a stone house, which is just what we wanted; there is room and good food for us all. There is a kindly horse named Nelly, a cow, a calf, and a garden with flowers and an elm tree.’
Just then the old rat caught sight of young Arthur. ‘Are you coming with us?’ he asked. ‘I don’t know,’ Arthur sighed. ‘The roof may not come down just yet.’ ‘Well,’ said the old rat angrily, ‘we can’t wait all day for you to make up your mind. Right about face! March!’ And they went straight off.
Arthur stood and watched the other little rats hurry away. The idea of an immediate decision was too much for him. ‘I’m going back to my hole for a bit,’ he said to himself dreamily, ‘just to make up my mind.’
That Tuesday night there was a great crash that shook the earth and down came the whole roof. Next day some men rode up and looked at the ruins. One of them moved a board and hidden under it they saw a young rat lying on his side, quite dead, half in and half out of his hole.
Encourage your muscle memory with PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE, until you can get through the whole phrase fluently. If you stumble, try again. Once you are confident, connect to the emotional drive of the line.
About the Speaker
"I grew up ... in Kansas it would be upper middle class cos you can buy a lot for two hundred dollars in Kansas! You get outside of that and your class drops pretty drastically. You know, a farm is where I kinda grew up ... my family is really small town people, white Caucasian. ... The lineage of my family started in the South and goes way way back to Scotland ... Described as a mid western accent"
About the Location
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansa Native American tribe which inhabited the area. For thousands of years, what is now Kansas was home to numerous and diverse Native American tribes. Kansas was first settled by European Americans in the 1830s, but the pace of settlement accelerated in the 1850s.
When it was officially opened to settlement by the U.S. government in 1854, abolitionist Free-Staters from New England and pro-slavery settlers from neighbouring Missouri rushed to the territory to determine whether Kansas would become a free state or a slave state. Thus, the area was a hotbed of violence and chaos in its early days as these forces collided, and was known as Bleeding Kansas. The abolitionists eventually prevailed and on January 29, 1861, Kansas entered the Union as a free state.
After the Civil War, the population of Kansas grew rapidly when waves of immigrants turned the prairie into farmland. Today, Kansas is one of the most productive agricultural states, producing high yields of wheat, corn, sorghum, and soybeans. Kansas is the 15th most extensive and the 34th most populous of the 50 United States.
In 2004 the ten largest reported ancestry groups, which account for over 85% of the population, in the state were: German – 33.75%, Irish – 14.4%, English – 14.1%, American – 7.5%, French – 4.4%, Scottish – 4.2%, Dutch – 2.5%, Swedish – 2.4%, Italian – 1.8%, and Polish – 1.5%.