You can spend years studying vocabulary and grammar, but to be understood in English you will need to work on your accent. Fortunately, watching TV counts as “working on your accent” and TV has never been better than it is today!
Television and movies are way better with their original soundtracks – if you find it hard to keep up with the action, turn on the English subtitles.
So, which shows can you watch to improve your accent?
Game of Thrones – British
The Seven Kingdoms are full of British voices. The characters from the North have accents from Northern England, the Lannisters are vaguely upper-class South-Eastern English, the Vale sounds Welsh and the buxom wenches of Kings Landing speak something between Cockney and Estuary English.
Many of the actors are not using their natural accents. Some clearly struggle, for example Lord Baelish, who is becoming more Irish as the seasons go on:
The wildlings are even further north than the Starks, but check out this interview with the actress who plays Ygritte:
She’s so posh, she even appeared in…
Downton Abbey – Posh British
If the British accents in Downton Abbey sound ridiculous, bear in mind that they are actually less posh than real upper class British accents would have been at the start of the 20th century. Linguists have found that even Queen Elizabeth’s accent has become considerably more “middle class” through her lifetime.
Mad Men – North American
Don Draper, or Dick Whitman, or whatever you want to call him, is one of the greatest TV characters of all time. What?
True Detective – Deep South USA (Louisiana)
As Matthew McConaughey’s six-pack has deflated and the quality of his roles has increased (the McConaissance), his southern accent has become more pronounced in his work. True Detective is the series to watch if you want to sound like a modern cowboy.
Or you could watch True Blood.
Wentworth Prison – Australian
Australia has come a long way since its days as a penal colony, but the country’s top TV export is set in a prison.
Flight of the Conchords – New Zealand
Follow Bret and Jermaine, New Zealand’s “fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”, as they try and make their names in New York.
The Fall – Northern Irish
A coproduction between Netflix and the BBC, The Fall isn’t something to watch before bedtime. But it is brilliant!
Do you want to sound like a Lannister? Check out our Guide to English Vowel Sounds.