British Accent for American Actors

As a professional actor or voice artist, you know the importance of having a versatile range of accents in your arsenal. Received Pronunciation is perhaps one of the most sought after accents in the acting and narration world. Despite the shared language between the UK and the US, mastering an authentic the RP accent can sometimes be a challenge.

A Lesson Structure Catered Towards American Actors

Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American English (GenAm) share fundamental similarities in sound aspiration and syllable stress. This makes it relatively straightforward for American students to learn a standard generic form of RP suited to most acting and narration roles. However, it’s important to note that there are vaiations of the RP accent according to background and environment. This lesson plan has been created specifically for those from a General American English background.

Starting Point: Muscle Memory Exercises

We’ll start with muscle memory exercises to help you with the positioning of the articulators. At this stage, we should try to avoid associating sounds with words as this can can often cause problems. For example, as an American English speaker, when pronouncing the word ‘brother’, your subconscious may guide you to rolling the tongue at the end even if you try to avoid this. However, we can avoid such problems by starting with basic construction of phonemes. Take the voiced fricative /ð/. We can combine it with the schwa sound and you will unlikely feel the need to roll the tongue.

Target Sounds in Isolation

Once we’re confident with the basic building blocks, we’ll advance to single syllable words, then simple phrases and sentences. We’ll focus on vocabulary targeting key sounds characteristic of Received Pronunciation.

For example, we’ll go through word lists containing the back rounded vowel sound /ɒ/.  This sound requires the lips to be rounded, whereas American English speakers may have a tendancy to slacken the jaw.

Once, we are confident practicing specific sounds in isolation, we can start mixing up vocabulary and increasing the difficulty level.

Refinement & Practice

Further steps involve naturalizing speech by connecting sounds smoothly, emphasizing glottal stops, contractions, and weaker forms. While these aspects are also present in GenAm, Americans may tend to over-enunciate the sounds of RP, potentially compromising authenticity in modern roles despite accurate pronunciation. We can also take a look at the intonation and tone of our speech. You will be given reading and role play exercies.

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The above video is from the Student Correction Course and can be accessed here.


How many lessons do you recommend?

For most students, five lessons should be sufficient to master the fundamentals. During the initial stages we’ll focus on drills to help you with the basic articulation of specific sounds. As you progress, we will move on to reading and role play exercises. You will also be given exercises to complete on your own in between lessons. 

How difficult is it for an American to master an RP accent?

For an American English speaker with a General American accent, mastering a generic RP accent for narration and general acting roles should be quite straight forward. However, there are variations of RP from the more traditional to the more modern forms. Learning a more nuanced form that reflects RP spoken in the modern day can take a bit more time to master.

How do your lessons differ from that of a dialect coach?

Dialect coaches tend to teach a variety of different accents. As a result they need to do a lot of research into the different accents that they are teaching. This can present a challenge if you wish to learn an accent that is truly authentic.

My native accent is RP and as a result I am familiar with the nuances of the accent. Not all RP accents are the same. In addition, this is the only accent that I teach. 

I want to speak like (actors name). Can you help me?

When contacting me, please let me know who you would like to imitate. We’ll take a look at their speech patterns, intonation and stress. Listening to the person you wish to model your accent can help a lot.

Do I need to purchase any course materials

Any training materials that you receive will be included in the lesson price.