British Accents Ranked from Easiest to Hardest (+ Free PDF & Quiz)

1,086,665 views

2021-09-01・ 37410

English with Lucy channel


Ranking 10 British / UK accents from easiest to most difficult. I sent 10 clips of celebrities with distinctive English accents to my students in a survey. Here are the results! FREE PDF: https://bit.ly/10AccentsPDF NORDVPN: https://nordvpn.com/lucy - 2-year plan with 73% off + 4 months for free. (AD) Disclaimer: This survey was for entertainment purposes only. The survey was not at all scientific, and had many variables, as discussed in the video. I really enjoyed making this video and would love to do a more thorough and fair survey in the future. If you are a linguist and would like to help out/offer some advice - I would love to hear from you! Please message me on [email protected] with the subject line 'LINGUIST123' (so that I can filter through and find you) Chapters: 0:00 - Introduction & Test Instructions 2:29 - Free PDF download instructions 3:11 - NordVPN sponsorship - AD 4:50 - 10 - Queen Elizabeth - RP 7:02 - 9 - Jason Statham - Cockney 8:41 - 8 - Gemma Collins - Essex 10:29 - 7 - Charlotte Church - Cardiff 12:12 - 6 - Louis Tomlinson - Yorkshire 14:04 - 5 - Adrian Chiles - Birmingham (Brummie) 16:23 - 4 - Nadine Coyle - Derry 17:46 - 3 - Cheryl Cole - Geordie (Newcastle) 19:55 - 2 - Frankie Boyle - Glaswegian 21:19 - 1 - John Bishop - Scouse (Liverpool) DO YOU WANT TO RECEIVE EMAILS FROM LUCY? Sign up here: https://bit.ly/EmailsFromLucy Don't forget to turn on subtitles if you need them! This is how I generate my subtitles (you can get a $10 subtitle coupon too): https://www.rev.com/blog/coupon/?ref=lucy (affiliate) Visit my website for free PDFs and an interactive pronunciation tool! https://englishwithlucy.co.uk​ MY SOCIAL MEDIA: Personal Channel: http://bit.ly/LucyBella​​​ (I post subtitled vlogs of my life in the English countryside! Perfect for listening practice!) Instagram: @Lucy http://bit.ly/lucyinsta​​​​​​​​​​ My British English Pronunciation Course is now LIVE: https://englishwithlucy.co.uk/pronunciationcourse (use code YOUTUBE10 for a 10% discount!) Do you want to improve your pronunciation? I have launched my British English (Modern RP) pronunciation course! I’ll train you to read phonetic transcriptions, and produce each sound that comprises modern received pronunciation. I’ll also teach you how to implement the correct use of intonation, stress, rhythm, connected speech, and much more. We’ll compare similar sounds, and look at tricky topics like the glottal stop and the dark L. Technically, I need to mark this as an AD even though it is my own company so - AD :) Want to get a copy of my English Vocabulary Planners? Click here: https://shop.englishwithlucy.co.uk - The best offer is the 4-book bundle where you get 4 planners for the price of 3. This product is very limited - don't miss out. The English Plan will be shipped from early August, from me here in England to you across the world! We ship internationally! Watch my explainer video here: https://bit.ly/TheEnglishPlanVideo Practice speaking: Earn $10 free italki credit: https://go.italki.com/englishwithlucy... (ad affiliate) Improve listening! Free Audible audiobook: https://goo.gl/LshaPp If you like my lessons, and would like to support me, you can buy me a coffee here: https://ko-fi.com/englishwithlucy FREE £26 Airbnb credit: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/c/lcondesa (ad - affiliate) Email for business enquiries ONLY: [email protected] Edited by La Ferpection: https://www.laferpection.com/​​

Instruction

Double-click on the English captions to play the video from there.

00:10
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to English  with Lucy. Today, we are going to be talking  
00:16
about the big topic of accents, in  particular, the accents that you guys  
00:22
find to be most difficult to understand. Now,  when it comes to accents, you can't just say,  
00:30
"This one's easy, and this one is difficult." It  doesn't work like that. It all depends on where  
00:35
you're from and what you're used to, what you're  used to hearing. I speak English with a modern  
00:41
received pronunciation accent, and lots of people  tell me that they find it very clear and easy,  
00:47
but that probably is because my accent is an  accent that's commonly taught in schools. You  
00:53
might hear it in films and TV shows quite a lot.  One of the most important things that you can do  
00:59
if you want to improve your comprehension  and improve your English listening skills  
01:04
is to familiarise yourself with as many accents  as possible. And this is such a fun task.  
01:11
As a starting point, I thought it would be really  fun to identify some of the accents that learners  
01:18
of English commonly find hard to understand so  that you can focus on familiarising yourself with  
01:25
them even more. In order to do this, I created a  survey. This is just for fun, it's not scientific,  
01:32
but I think it gives quite a good indication. I  took 10 celebrities who speak 10 of my favourite  
01:39
accents and I took little clips of them speaking.  I then asked my students on my email list to  
01:46
tell me, on a scale of zero to 10, how easy they  found it to understand that little bit of speech.  
01:54
I averaged the scores, I've put them in order,  and I'm really, really excited to show you the  
02:00
results. To make this even more interesting, I  will play each clip twice, once without subtitles  
02:08
and again with subtitles so that you can test  your own understanding of each accent clip.  
02:16
Obviously, there will be many variables,  the speed at which the person is speaking,  
02:21
the setting in which they're speaking, whether  it's formal or informal, but hopefully,  
02:26
it will give you a good idea. As always,  there is a PDF that goes with today's lesson.  
02:32
It's got all of the information that I share  today, plus links to the full clips and some extra  
02:37
bits as well. If you'd like to download that,  just click on the link in the description box,  
02:41
you enter your name and your email address, you  sign up to my mailing list, and then immediately  
02:47
the PDF will arrive in your inbox. And then every  week after that, you will automatically receive  
02:52
my lesson PDFs. You'll also receive all of my  news, updates, and offers, and the opportunity  
02:58
to participate in any future surveys. You don't  want to miss out on that important research.  
03:05
Now, a lot of the clips that I'm going to show you  come from TV shows, mainly British TV shows.  
03:11
I always recommend watching TV shows and movies  in English as a language learning tool. But one  
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04:43
let's get started with the video. So we have 10  accents and the person who's ranked number 10,  
04:51
IE, the easiest to understand according to my  students is Queen Elizabeth the Second, of course.  
04:59
It helps a lot that she speaks  very, very slowly, and this was a  
05:03
formal broadcast. Let's have a listen. King James may not have anticipated  
05:08
quite how important sport and games were to  become in promoting harmony and common interests.  
05:16
But from the scriptures in the Bible which  bears his name, we know that nothing is more  
05:21
satisfying than the feeling of belonging to a  group who are dedicated to helping each other.  
05:28
And now, let's listen one more  time with subtitles on screen  
05:33
so you can check how much of it you understand. King James may not have anticipated quite how  
05:38
important sport and games were to become  in promoting harmony and common interests.  
05:46
But from the scriptures in the Bible which  bears his name, we know that nothing is more  
05:51
satisfying than the feeling of belonging to a  group who are dedicated to helping each other.  
05:57
So the queen speaks the Queen's English. She  speaks with a received pronunciation accent on the  
06:04
very top posh end of received pronunciation. Now,  this is an accent that is traditionally regarded  
06:11
as the standard for British English, but  things are changing. Originally, this accent  
06:17
was called public school pronunciation. And  public school actually means private school.  
06:25
So an independent school in the UK. State school  is education paid for by the government. Public or  
06:32
private school you pay for yourself. So this  is an accent that was traditionally learned.  
06:38
And it's quite interesting because it doesn't  have a specific geographical location. It was  
06:44
originally spoken in public schools all across  the British Isles. It was kind of a sign of class.  
06:50
A couple of decades ago, the majority of  what you would hear on the radio and on  
06:55
the television would be received pronunciation.  But now that is not the case, and rightly so.  
07:01
Let's move on to number nine. And this is  a very attractive, to me, celebrity. It is  
07:11
Jason Statham speaking in his gorgeous Cockney  accent. I know a lot of you are huge fans of  
07:19
the Cockney accent. Let's have a listen. And you have to accept that. At the end of the  
07:25
day, we shouldn't be moaning because we're  hired actors. You come in, you get paid,  
07:30
shut your mouth, do you work, and go  home. It should be a little bit of that,  
07:33
but sometimes you want to try and get involved and  you try and collaborate and get things done.  
07:39
Can we just have a moment of  appreciation for men rocking bald heads.  
07:44
Absolutely loved them. Right, let's listen again  with subtitles and see how much you understood.  
07:49
And you have to accept that. At the end of  the day, we shouldn't be moaning because we're  
07:54
hired actors. You come in, you get paid,  shut your mouth, do you work, and go home.  
07:59
It should be a little bit of that, but sometimes  you want to try and get involved and you try  
08:03
and collaborate and get things done. Okay, adore this accent. It originates from  
08:09
the East End of London. Supposedly, you were only  a true Cockney if you were born within earshot of  
08:17
Bow Bells. Within earshot means within listening  distance, within hearing distance. And Bow Bells  
08:24
are the bells in a church, a historic East London  church. Now the East End of London is changing.  
08:31
And a lot of the people who were born there or  who grew up there are moving further out to Essex.  
08:38
So it was very interesting to me to see that  number eight was the Essex accent. So let's play  
08:45
a clip of that. We have a celebrity called Gemma  Collins, who I personally adore. She is so sassy,  
08:53
so entertaining. If I ever feel sad, I look  at her top moments on YouTube because, oh,  
09:01
what character, she's just completely herself. I have become one of the biggest reality stars  
09:05
in Britain. I am a global icon.  It's weird, but that's the GC.  
09:11
That is the GC. And that's what I do. I make great  
09:14
TV. I provide you with entertainment. And I kind  of explain it to people, it's like Paul O'Grady  
09:20
and Lily Savage. It's how I make my money. She's so confident, isn't she? I loved the guy,  
09:28
Eamonn Holmes' face as she was praising herself.  Brilliant. Let's listen again with subtitles.  
09:35
I have become one of the biggest reality stars  in Britain. I am a global icon. It's weird,  
09:41
but that's the GC. That is the GC.  
09:43
And that's what I do. I make great TV. I  provide you with entertainment. And I kind  
09:50
of explain it to people, it's like Paul O'Grady  and Lily Savage. It's how I make my money.  
09:57
Okay. So the Essex accent is found in and  around Essex. A lot of people from the East End,  
10:02
originally Cockney, did move to Essex or are  continuing to move to Essex. It is like a  
10:08
mixture of the Estuary accent and the Cockney  accent. It's become incredibly popular over  
10:15
the past decade due to a TV show called The Only  Way Is Essex. It's a reality TV show that follows  
10:22
young people in Essex, very glamorous people.  And Gemma was one of them and her career has just  
10:28
exploded. Okay. Moving on to number seven,  we're going to another country. We're not in  
10:32
England anymore. We are in Wales and it is the  Cardiff accent as spoken by Charlotte Church,  
10:41
who is an opera singer. Well, I suppose in terms of  
10:46
the film Under Milk Wood is such an incredible  play. Dylan Thomas' writing is so unusual.  
10:56
Yeah. And I'm quite a newbie to acting.  I've done bits and bobs in the past.  
11:02
Very interesting there. Can you hear her say  unusual? Where I'd say unusual. So it's almost  
11:09
like she's adding in an extra syllable  there. And she also said incredible with  
11:16
an R sound I struggle to do. It's like a  rolling R sound. I love listening to the  
11:24
Welsh accents. They're very melodious to  me. Let's listen again with subtitles.  
11:31
Well, I suppose in terms of the film  Under Milk Wood is such an incredible  
11:38
play. Dylan Thomas' writing is so unusual.  Yeah. And I'm quite a newbie to acting.  
11:47
I've done bits and bobs in the past. If you are interested in learning a little  
11:52
bit more about the Welsh accents, then I highly  recommend a comedy called Gavin and Stacey.  
11:58
Actually goes quite well with this video because  it shows an Essex family and a Welsh family  
12:05
joining because the son and the daughter are  getting married. Hilarious, some fabulous  
12:10
Welsh accents in there. Let's move on to  number six. It's the Yorkshire accent as  
12:16
spoken by Louis Tomlinson from One Direction. Basically, me name is Louis, but I didn't love  
12:24
it when I was younger. Once I was old enough, I  don't know why, I just didn't really love it. So  
12:28
I got known as Louis, all me friends from home  call me Louis. And then I get there... Is this  
12:34
close enough? Sorry. And then I get there  on me first day at the X-Factor with Simon  
12:39
and all the judges, and he called me Louie. So for me, one of the most distinctive things  
12:44
about his accent is that he says me instead  of my. "Me name," instead of, "My name."  
12:52
That's really distinctive to me where I'd say,  "Love," he says, "Love." "I didn't love it,"  
13:00
but for me it's, "I didn't love it." I find this  accent very warm. Love. Yeah, it's just lovely,  
13:08
isn't it? Let's listen again, but with subtitles  so you can see how much you understood.  
13:14
Basically, right, me name is Louis. But I  didn't love it when I were younger. Once I  
13:18
was old enough, I don't know why, I just didn't  really love it. So I got known as Louis. All me  
13:23
friends from home call me Louis. And then I get  there... Is it close enough. Sorry. And then I get  
13:28
there on me first day at the X-Factor with Simon  and all the judges, and he called me Louie.  
13:34
Did you also hear him not pronounce the  H in home? He said, "Home." I would say,  
13:41
"Home." From home from home. I'm not sure if  that's quite right. From home. I need a bit of  
13:49
help with my Yorkshire accent. Another thing I  noticed, he said, "I were," instead of, "I was."  
13:56
"When I were younger." "When I was younger,"  is what I'd say. That's part of his dialect.  
14:02
Okay. Number five. So this is sort of mid range  in difficulty for you. It's the Brummie accent,  
14:08
which is the accent from Birmingham. And  we have Adrian Chiles speaking it.  
14:14
So anyway... Actually, when they're trying to get  me to come on here, they give a list of all the  
14:17
brilliant people you've had on in the past.  That has the opposite effect on me. I said,  
14:22
"We get Richard E. Grant and stuff. Why would  anybody be interested?" So, anyway, that's my,  
14:26
I suppose, that's my tip of humble- You were just the best I could get.  
14:31
Many a true word said. So Adrian doesn't actually  
14:33
have the strongest Brummie  accent that I've ever heard,  
14:37
but if you find him hard to understand, he  is speaking quite quickly here. So if you're  
14:42
managing to understand him, you're doing a really  good job. Let's listen again with subtitles.  
14:49
So anyway... Actually, when they're trying to get  me to come on here, they give a list of all the  
14:53
brilliant people you've had on in the past.  That has the opposite effect on me. I said,  
14:57
"We get Richard E. Grant and stuff. Why would  anybody be interested?" So, anyway, that's my,  
15:02
I suppose, that's my tip of humble- You were just the best I could get.  
15:06
Many a true word said. Also, how awesome is that sign  
15:09
language interpreter. She was really conveying the  comedy quite well. Now, as lovely as this accent  
15:15
may sound to you, this is actually one of the  British accents that faces the most discrimination  
15:21
within the country. There is another one that I'll  talk about as well. When people run opinion polls,  
15:26
it often comes up as one of the most disfavored.  Very interestingly, when they run similar opinion  
15:33
polls to overseas visitors, so non-native English  speakers, the Brummie accent seems to do quite  
15:39
well. They find it very melodious. This implies  that it does badly in polls because of prejudice,  
15:45
rather than a genuine dislike of the sound of  it. I'd be interested to know your thoughts and  
15:53
to know if there are any accents in your country  that you think are kind of unfairly regarded. I  
15:59
know that living in Spain, I learned Spanish with  an Andalusian accent. And I have definitely been  
16:05
on the receiving end of criticism. Some of it I take as well-meaning. A lot  
16:10
of it comes from people from other countries  who were saying, "Ah, this sort of accent's  
16:14
ugly. You should learn my accent." But it can  be quite hurtful to be honest because that's  
16:21
the accent I speak with now. Let's move onto  the next one. You've rated this as number four.  
16:26
And I know I shouldn't have favourites, but I  think I can. This is my favourite. I absolutely  
16:33
love the way this accent sounds. And  I love the person who has this accent.  
16:38
It is the Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud. It's just  a blessing on the ears. It really is. She speaks  
16:45
with a Derry accent. Have a lesson of this. I enjoy cooking, baking, and stuff. Working  
16:52
with flour and making sweet things. I'm  not so used to more savoury chopping.  
16:58
When you just zone out, you put your music on  and you just chop. Just chop loads of stuff.  
17:03
Does anyone else want to just chop and cook with  flour with her? It's just lovely. See if you can  
17:09
notice that where I would say flour, she says  something more like flyer. And she also says  
17:16
making instead of making, as I would say it.  Chopping, chopping, really, really distinct  
17:24
differences. Let's listen again with subtitles. I enjoy cooking, baking, and stuff. Working with  
17:30
flour and making sweet things. I'm not so used  to more savoury chopping. When you just zone out,  
17:37
you put your music on and you just  chop. Just chop loads of stuff.  
17:42
Lovely. Truly lovely. Love it. Let's move on to  number three. We have another Girls Aloud member.  
17:49
So you voted these two quite high up on the  difficulty scale. Cheryl speaks with a Geordie  
17:54
accent, which you'll find in the city of Newcastle  and the surrounding areas. Let's have a listen.  
18:00
We did three hours the night before. So there's a  girl out there called Charm who I used when I did  
18:02
my own solo tour. I just absolutely adore  her. I love working with her. And we did  
18:02
three hours with those girls and those girls  were sick. So I was just watching them the  
18:03
whole time like, "I want to do like her." She's so softly spoken and she speaks really,  
18:03
really gently. Let's listen  again with subtitles and then  
18:03
I've got something to say about this accent. We did three hours the night before. So there's  
18:04
a girl out there called Charm who  I used when I did my own solo tour.  
18:09
I just absolutely adore her. I love working with  her. And we did three hours with those girls and  
18:13
those girls were sick. So I was just watching them  the whole time like, "I want to do like her."  
18:42
Did you hear her use the word sick? I think  I've mentioned it in a video recently. It's  
18:47
a slang word for cool. I remember finding it  very confusing as a child because I thought it  
18:53
meant bad, but that's sick is that's really  cool. Okay. So I wanted to talk a bit more  
18:59
about accent discrimination here because Cheryl,  I remember she was in the news quite a lot. I'd  
19:05
say around 10 years ago, she was a judge on the  X Factor a singing talent competition in the UK.  
19:12
And she was invited over to the US to be a judge  on the US version. And then she was quickly  
19:19
fired from it, supposedly. And apparently it was  due to the producers being worried that her accent  
19:27
would be difficult to understand. Now, I don't  know if this was just to generate publicity,  
19:34
but it sounded pretty harsh. I remember feeling really bad for her at the time.  
19:38
I feel that even if her accent was kind of  new to viewers of the X Factor in the US,  
19:43
they would have gotten used to it quite quickly.  So I don't know if I agree with that decision,  
19:49
but I imagine that it was just for publicity.  Maybe this was all decided before. Right, let's  
19:55
move on to number two. Number two is a comedian  that I am very fond of. His called Frankie Boyle.  
20:02
He tells the most outrageous jokes. He really  pushes the boundaries and oversteps them quite  
20:09
frequently, but he speaks with a Glaswegian accent  from Glasgow in Scotland. Let's have a listen.  
20:17
My cousins, when I was growing up in Ireland,  their dad was a fisherman on a trawler in Ireland.  
20:25
And he would go away for two weeks at a time.  And I remember thinking that's the worst thing  
20:28
you could possibly imagine, is that your dad's  going to just disappear for two weeks. And now,  
20:33
two months would be quite standard on a tour. Very, very distinctive tour.  
20:40
I'm not even going to try to mimic  it. This for me is one of the hardest  
20:44
accents for me to mimic. One thing I find quite  distinctive is that where I would say is they say  
20:51
as, or instead of kind for me, they  say kind. Let's have a listen again  
20:57
with subtitles. See how much you picked up. My cousins when I was growing up in Ireland, their  
21:04
dad was a fisherman on a trawler in Ireland. And  he would go away for two weeks at a time. And I  
21:10
remember thinking that's the worst thing you  could possibly imagine, is that your dad's  
21:14
going to just disappear for two weeks. And now,  two months would be quite standard on a tour.  
21:19
And the last accent, the accent that you voted  as hardest to understand. In all fairness,  
21:25
I don't think I gave you the easiest clip.  He's speaking very quickly, but his name's John  
21:30
Bishop and he speaks with a Scouse accent.  And there's been a lot of press recently  
21:37
of people who speak with a Scouse accent coming  out and talking about the discrimination they  
21:43
faced. Let's have a listen to the comedian, John  Bishop, speaking with his Scouse accent. Have  
21:49
a listen to those distinctive features. See, I've wrote about them in the programme  
21:53
called Generation Z. Because I  have given them a full title.  
21:57
Because I'm old enough to call things by the full  title, rather than yourself who's gone Gen Z  
22:03
Yeah. That's also the only clip with music in the  background as well. So I'll bear that in mind for  
22:07
next time to make sure it's as fair as possible.  However, it is a very distinctive accent. When he  
22:12
says, but I, he almost says barra. It's very hard  for me to reproduce. He almost rolls his R sounds.  
22:21
Another thing I notice is when they say things  like school or cool, they tend to say it school  
22:28
or cool. Almost adding in an extra syllable. See, I've wrote about them in the programme  
22:34
called Generation Z. Because I  have given them a full title.  
22:37
Because I'm old enough to call things by the full  title, rather than yourself who's gone Gen Z.  
22:44
Right. That is the end of today's video. Those  were the 10 accents that you helped me rank from  
22:51
easiest to understand to hardest to understand. I  really enjoyed making this video. I love looking  
22:58
at the ins and outs of lots of accents. I'd love  to make another video like this. So tell me if you  
23:02
enjoyed it and if you'd like more. Don't forget  to download the free PDF that goes with this  
23:07
video. It's got links to all of the full clips so  that you can explore more of the accents that you  
23:12
like. Just click on the link in the description  box, enter your name and your email address,  
23:16
and you sign up to my mailing list. You'll  receive PDFs every week, along with my news,  
23:20
course information, and updates. Don't forget  to check out NordVPN at nordvpn.com/lucy.  
23:28
You can take advantage of their amazing offer. You can connect with me on all of my social  
23:33
media. I've got my Instagram and my website,  englishwithlucy.co.uk, where I have a really cool  
23:39
pronunciation tool where you can click on phoneme  and hear pronounced those phonemes and words that  
23:44
contain those phonemes. It's very fun. E,  word, no. I've also got my personal channel  
23:56
where I document my life here in the English  countryside. There are some big changes going on,  
24:01
so it could be interesting to watch.  All of the videos are fully subtitled,  
24:07
so you can use them for listening practise  and to improve your vocabulary. [inaudible  
24:34
00:24:11].I will see you  soon for another lesson.
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This site will introduce you to YouTube videos that are useful for learning English.

Double click on the English captions displayed on each video page to play the video from there.

The captions scroll in sync with the video playback.

If you have any comments or requests, please contact us using this contact form.