Confused by Different Types of English Accents? Here is a Guide using Movies as Examples

May 4, 2018
4 May 2018,

English is spoken world-wide so it can be difficult initially to decide which language you would like to learn.  English is spoken as the first language for example in America, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Barbados, The Bahamas and Antigua. Even though people in all these countries speak English, they all have different types of English accents. In other words, they have significant differences in how they pronounce certain words and the overall way they speak English. Start by talk perhaps with a native American English speaker or native British English speaker but then incorporate watching films from all round the world to help you listen and understand the many different English accents.  This will then help you to be able to converse with many different English speakers from around the world.  Movies also incorporate language which is natural and helps increase your vocabulary.


Here are examples of different types of English accents with celebrity and movie examples:


The Social Network (American Accent)


This film tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg who invented Facebook.  The actors include Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake and is a great film to watch and listen to the American accent.


Toy Story (American Accent)


This is an animated American movie about a boy called Andy and the adventures of his toys.  It stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen and although it is a cartoon, aimed at children, it is a great film to watch for beginners of all ages.


The Break Up  (American Accent)


This tells the story of Gary and Brooke who met, buy an apartment together and then decide they do not want to live together so this tells the story of their break up.  It stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston and uses day to day language and will make you laugh.  This will help you listen and understand American accents and the film is very easy to follow.


The King’s Speech  (British Accent)


This is based on the true story of King George VI becoming king after the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII, to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.  This is a great film to watch and listen to the British accent.  This film stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. 



My Fair Lady (British Accent)


This film is well known and is a super film to watch as you will listen to various different British accents.  There are several songs which are well known.  The film is about Professor Higgins (played by Rex Harrison) who tries to teach Eliza Doolittle (played by Audrey Hepburn) to speak better British English



Mary Poppins (British Accent)


This film which will appeal to adults and children and you will listen to different British accents with some cartoon animation included in the middle of the film.  The film is about the nanny, Mary Poppins (played by Julie Andrews), who comes to look after Jane (played by Karen Dotrice) and Michael (played by Matthew Garber).  This is an amusing story of their exploits and a good example of British English.



The Theory of Everything (British Accent)


Another film which is good for understanding British English.  It is based on the book titled Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen written by Jane Hawking about her relationship with her husband Steven, who is a famous theoretical physicist.  Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking and Felicity Jones plays Jane Wilde. 


Learning English is like learning to bike

An Everlasting Piece (Irish Accent)


This is a film for adults and based in Northern Ireland.  Although this film, is an American comedy film, the story involves two salesmen, one whom is Catholic and the other is Protestant, and the story is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  The film stars Barry McEvoy and Brian F. O’Bryne and is a good example of a film to watch enabling you to listen to the Irish accent.



Ondine (Irish Accent)


An Irish film which is good for listening and understanding the Irish accent.  This film is set in a village on the coast of Ireland staring Colin Farrell as the fisherman who lives with Annie, his daughter – played by Alison Barry, and the arrival in their lives of Ondine, played by Alicja Bachleda and the influence she has on their lives.



Crocodile Dundee (Australian Accent)


This is a film which incorporates both American and Australian accents.  This film stars Paul Hogan as Michael ‘Crocodile Dundee’ and Linda Kozlowski who plays an American newspaper writer called Sue Charlton.  It is set in the Australian bush and in New York and will make you laugh.  There were two sequels called Crocodile Dundee II and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles.  All these films are worth watching.



Australia (Australian Accent)


This is a film which will definitely help with understanding the Australian accent.  It is set on a cattle ranch in Australia starring Lady Sarah Ashley, played by Nicole Kidman, who comes from Great Britain to see the cattle ranch she has inherited.  The film tells the story of her saving her ranch and her involvement with a local called The Drover played by Hugh Jackman.


All these films are very enjoyable to watch and will help in your understanding of the various types of English accents.  Perhaps start with watching the films with sub titles and then watch again without the sub titles so that you can concentrate on the accents.  By understanding multiple types of English accents, you will become more confident about meeting, listening to and talking with English native speakers from various English-speaking countries.  Many of these films are already well known and there are many more films which you can watch on either the television, on DVD, on Amazon Prime and on Netflix.

Bonus: Want to explore more types of English accents? Here are some useful posts