Introduction to RP accent training
In this post, I will look at an online RP accent training course from SpeechSchool.tv, which was founded in 2009 for the purpose of teaching the English accent to foreign students and others who are interested in improving their accent. In 2010, it won the UK Technium Challenge award.
The RP accent is also called “BBC English”, “Oxford English”, or even “Queen’s English”. It is generally accepted as a neutral, accent-free, way of speaking English.
For people who need English for international business, this is the accent that will help your communication and, therefore, improve your business success.
What is RP accent training?
The Master Speaker (English Accent) is an online course with very specific aims, which are:
- Increasing confidence as a speaker of English.
- Improving communication with people (giving better results).
- Being able to persuade and influence.
- Speaking clearly in a Standard English (neutral) accent.
There are just over 100 individual videos in the whole course.
How does RP accent training work?
The programme has four separate components.
- Weekly video training,
- Downloadable exercises for daily practice,
- Downloadable recordings for daily practice,
- Speech assessment option.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Weekly video training
Every Monday, you will receive an email with your access code to the next lesson.
These videos are between 10 and 15 minutes long and are hosted by a professional voice coach.
It must be said, by today’s standards, these Flash format videos are not high resolution and appear to be original 2009 quality. However, as long as you don’t switch to full-screen mode, you will have no problems with this. At least it cuts down on bandwidth requirements. More importantly, the sound quality is very good.
These provide a summary of the lesson, with diagrams in PDF format. Additionally, there are exercises that can (and should) be performed daily in order to reinforce the lesson.
As with the PDF file above, this MP3 file contains lesson information and daily exercises. The recordings are clear and easy to understand. You can play them in the car on your way to work, for example.
This is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the course.
Please note that this is an extra cost, in addition to the course costs. You can do this as often as you wish and the course creators recommend that you do this at the start of the course, in order to get your baseline. This will also identify any specific problem areas that need extra attention.
Once you have been doing the course for a few months, you can repeat the assessment and see how you’ve improved.
For this speech assessment, you complete a series if tasks that you record and send to the trainers. They assess your recording, looking at several factors, such as accent, impression, clarity, quality (in terms of tone, resonance and breath control), language usage, English level, speech melody, emphasis and inflection. They also check for speech impediments, such as lisp and stutter.
After a few days, you will receive an email with a 3-4 page personalised report. This report contains an in-depth analysis and assessment of your current speech.
According to the course trainers, improvements of 20% within 3 months are common and realistic.
Who benefits from RP accent training?
The simple answer is anybody who is learning English as a second language. The ability to be understood clearly is essential to communication.
The lessons are in English, so absolute beginners would probably find it hard to follow and should improve their general English skills before enrolling on this course.
Additionally, native speakers who wish to lose or weaken a regional accent would also benefit from this course. Studies have shown that people with a clear RP accent are perceived as being more intelligent. There is, of course, a good amount of prejudice at work here but if you’re looking for a good job and you think your strong regional accent is holding you back, then this course could well be the answer for you.
There is a free trial, so if you’re curious and/or uncertain, check it out now.
You can change, cancel or pause your subscription at any time. Pausing your subscription still allows you to access all previous lessons and assessments.
What does RP accent training cost?
The course material is a monthly subscription which, at the time of writing, is based on $32.95 per month. There is a 6 month subscription special for $192.92, which includes an assessment and a total of 28 weeks tuition.
The assessment is currently $39 (or $117 for non-course members).
I appreciate the fact that they do fair currency conversion and I get really annoyed with companies who say that their product costs the same amount in USD, GBP or EUR. I consider that to be a huge rip-off, which thankfully does NOT happen here.
The Master Speaker programme has stood the test of time. There are clear signs that the course works.
The video quality could be better, but that’s really the only negative thing about this course. I have mentioned this to the course creators and they told me that they are in the process of updating the videos. Bearing in mind that there are over 100 videos, this will not happen overnight.
I really like the speech assessment component – it gives you a real sense of how you’re improving and exactly what you need to learn.