Are You Being Taught True Modern RP?

Received Pronunciation is a popular accent among non-native English. It is for this reason that many accent coaches claim to teach the modern form of RP. One can find many videos on YouTube claiming to teach modern RP.

However, in reality most of these teachers have an accent that is closer to what we can call Southern British English or Standard British English. Here I’ll attempt to explain why.

One of the key defining features of Received Pronunciation is the aspiration of sounds that comes out of the front of the mouth. Other accents such as Cockney, Estuary and the London accent can sound more nasal or gutteral. 

In addition, the consonant sounds of RP tend to have more clarity compared to other British accents.

Here are some examples:

The dark /l/ at the end of the word “fall” is clearly articulated. Many teachers of RP incorrectly pronounce the word “fall” as /fɔːw/ instead of /fɔːl/.

The /w/ sound in “winter” requires a precise formation of the lips. Many teachers tend to have an overly relaxed lip shape, which is not conducive to RP.

The /r/ sound in the word “rabit” requires precise formation of the tongue.  Many teachers incorrectly pronounce the word “rabit” as /ˈwæbɪt/ instead of /ˈræbɪt/.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that simply articulating the /t/ sound in a word such as “bottle” instead of using a glottal stop is akin to speaking RP. However, in reality, there are more nuanced aspects that one needs to be aware of if they wish to master Received Pronunciation.