Authentic Listening with British Accents

Both of the CAE courses I teach have recently encountered the Listening Part 4 tasks for the first time. For those of you who don’t know how this works, they have to listen to five speakers doing short monologues on a related theme, for example holidays, jobs or sport. While listening they have to do TWO multiple matching tasks, and they only listen twice. Some students do both simultaneously, others do them consecutively. Here is an online example.

For all of my students, the hardest part of the task is not the fact that they have to do so much at the same time; rather it is the difficult (mostly British) accents that many of them are encountering for the first time. Having previously only really heard neutral accents, with the occasional local one thrown in for an authentic feel to coursebooks, along with the American English they’re exposed to in films and on TV, they were in shock when they heard fast native speakers with accents including Somerset, Scouse, Welsh, Brummie and Irish, among others.

As a result, we’ve been adding youtube videos and other links to our Edmodo group every time we find an interesting accent. I thought it might be useful to share these with the wider world, and I’m hoping you might be able to add to the collection. We’re focussing on British accents because in Part 4 this is what they are most likely to encounter, although American ones do appear in other parts of the CAE Listening exam. I’ve tried to group them loosely by accent, but please feel free to correct me!

WARNING: A couple of these videos contain adult content, so check them before you use them with a class (I know you would anyway!)

In no particular order:

Many accents

A voicethread I made collating videos

British Library page

Evolving English world map

woices – location based audioguides (for example, there is a guide taking you through Birmingham’s musical history)

BBC Voices

Speech Accent Archive

Mixed Accents

Hale & Pace (Yorkshire and Dudley/Black Country) – Pub Hooligans and What are you looking at? (via Klara P)

Gavin and Stacey (Essex and Wales) – the girls are from Wales and the boys are from Essex

Cockney, Lancaster and Yorkshire accents in East Street (Eastenders and Coronation Street meet)

Frank Skinner (West Bromwich/Black Country) interviewing Noel Gallagher (Mancunian – Manchester)

Geordie (Newcastle)

Geordie case study from the British Library

Geordie monologue – a funny poem including lots of local words (these won’t appear in the exam – I hope!)

Ant & Dec talking about Comic Relief (see my lesson about Comic Relief and Red Nose Day here)

A local man talking about his seat at St. James’ Park (from

Sarah Millican (Geordie comedian) solving problems

West of England / Somerset etc

Fork handles by the Two Ronnies

I’ve got a brand new combine harvester by The Wurzels (and the lyrics!)


Rhod Gilbert doing stand-up

Tom Jones interview

Irish (I know they’re not strictly British, but these are good videos!)

The similarities between Irish and Scouse

Dara O’Briain doing stand-up about mothers using other men to control their children

Ballykissangel – the opening scene


Scottish English– an interview done by an American (via Klara P)

Hamish Macbeth – the opening scene

Scottish voice-operated lift

Glaswegian surrealism – Dee Dee in the kitchen

Scouse (Liverpool)

A set of links

The similarities between Irish and Scouse

Red Dwarf – Lister (Craig Charles) is a Scouser – in this clip, he speaks from 1 minute

Brummie (Birmingham) and Black Country

Talk like a Brummie Day

Black Country Alphabet and a blog post talking about the dialect (thanks to Mark Andrews for the second link)

Allan Ahlberg reading Talk Us Through It, Charlotte (a poem)


Last of the Summer Wine: Who’s Got Rhythm?


Phil Harding talking about the Stonehenge Dagger

‘Standard’ English

Hugh Laurie discussing some American and British English differences (via Kristyna)

Please feel free to add to the list by posting in the comments below, if possible including which accent(s) the video include(s).



I’ve now created a set of materials based on some of these videos and others.

I also found a list of accents used by public figures (all from England) on Wikipedia. It could be a good starting point if you want to do further research.

Not completely authentic, but interesting nonetheless: a dialect coach gives a tour of British accents for the BBC Film Programme.

10 thoughts on “Authentic Listening with British Accents

  1. Hi Sandy,

    This is a good idea!

    I’ll be usng some of these. You’re putting me to shame with the amount of work you do!

    Fanatstic I need a kick up the rear with regards to my advanced class…..




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