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Understanding the accents in IELTS

Posted on May 14, 2022
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Understanding the accents in IELTS

The English language can be learned in many ways; simultaneously, there are many ways to pronounce it, called an accent. The accent is connected with a particular region, country, or area. During the IELTS listening and speaking sections, accent plays a significant role which can turn out as a barrier to speaking or understanding that particular language.

To overcome this challenging task and understand the English language, students have to get acquainted with the different accents of English worldwide.

IELTS listening sections are comprised of many native English accents

  • British English
  • Australian English
  • North American English
  • New Zealand English and
  • South African English

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Note down the differences in pronunciation. Vowel sounds anyhow differ. Getting comfortable with each accent is an essential thing to score in IELTS.

English language accents 

Many students get confused with accents while writing the IELTS English Listening sections. There are a total of 160 different types of dialects of English. Primarily the test follows the British accent. Following are the factors that help to clear the listening and speaking sections.

 Listening Test:

A student has to know the test format first. The listening section has many comprised of accents.  The students have to listen to two types of conversations. They are:

  • A monologue- Here, only one person is speaking. The topics can be academic or kind of factual.
  • A couplet/duo conversation: Here is the discussion of two or more people to communicate and give a speech or debate on a topic.

Practice it:

Practicing listening improves understanding the language. IELTS is an international level English test, so listening to the audio based on different language accents.

Tips for understanding the accent in the listening test

  • The first and foremost step is to start watching English news or movies. Listening more will improve the understanding of hearing. While watching a movie, when you overcome some of the problematic pronounced and new words in between, always pause at that particular point of the video and write down those words and their pronunciation in your local language.

              Example: Watch some of the English-language channels like CNN and BBC.

  • Listening to online podcasts and youtube videos from different regions for different accents from different native speakers. Watching Travel videos from other native English speakers to get the awareness of accents. This will help real-life communication.
  • Take help from Google to solve your difficulties.

In the listening test section, you can hear a pre-recorded audio file for all four sections. As it is an international test, the speakers’ accent differs from one geographical region to the other. A British speaker might sound different from an Australian or like a New Zealand speaker.

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Extreme or strange accents: 

Most of the students get frozen when they start listening to the pre-recorded audio with an accent, which they may not relate to. As IELTS is an international test, it will definitely consist of diverse accents, which turn out to be highly hi-fi or strange accents. If you come across such an unfamiliar or challenging accent, then you need more practice in the listening section to understand it. Practicing the listening section a lot can give you the confidence to tackle multiple pronunciations.

Attentiveness: Sometimes, the accent can be familiar or unfamiliar, but one thing that remains constant is listening to the audio attentively. Never get overwhelmed or excited by the audio, which may distract your focus. This seriousness will help you make out the difference in accents and will later help in real-life situations.

Listen to English Radio Stations:  Listening is definitely a good habit giving an excellent way to improve the power of understanding and grasp the content in various accents. Tuning in to radio stations will provide awareness about the accents. Those radios must be in English. There are many free channels present online like BBC Radio from the UK, ABC Radio from Australia, and CBC Radio from Canada. Listening to it for at least 2-3 hours every day will soon make you get familiar with the various accents.

TED talks from native English speakers: Preparing for IELTS is not just preparing with English grammar, practicing exercises, study time, and mock tests. You can find some inspiration as well as motivation from some of the native English speakers in TED talks. Many native speakers with varied accents are available worldwide, and you can rightly use this time to learn and also get entertained, and of course, get motivated too.

Practice tests: Use good resources for practice tests that cover various accents, which will help you to score well in IELTS. The more you practice, the more you understand the varied accents.

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Identify the problem:  While writing the test, you hear the audio only once in the Listening test. So it is crucial to be highly confident in picking every detail the first time. You should get familiar with the range of ‘standard’ accents. If you have found an unfamiliar accent, then you have not come across problematic regional accents.

The solution: While preparing for the test, it is essential to spend some time listening to the most common test to know the dialects. These dialects are not challenging to find content online worldwide. It is always good to stick to your natural accent and focus on pronunciation. Significantly to the Ideas, vocabulary, and effective communication.


YouTube and TED talks have become great educational resources in IELTS preparation. As the TED speakers belong to many different countries and always have the transcript talks ready, we can cross-check the accuracy of your listening.
The Top 20 TED talks:

Make use of Audio scripts: Make use of audio scripts, or you can call tapescripts to prepare for the word scripts, which are provided in the textbook. Or one can even select an online course for the IELTS preparation, where you will be provided with many audio scripts. There is much range of sources to get a better band score. There are more accents like Caribbean and Louisiana accents, and sometimes these accents also come up while doing the IELTS test.

Decoding the accents: The IELTS listening test not just tests your ability to understand but also makes you ready to face real-time communication with native English speakers. As a student of the English language, we are probably used to understanding North American English or possibly British English, but to speak, we need multiple accents to speak.

Australian English – For many of us, understanding the Australian English accent is the most challenging thing to understand and interpret, as it has an influence on North American or sometimes British accents. So, listen to the Australian shows and make use of your mobile to help.

British English – Though we might have heard a lot of the British accent more than the Australian, it is difficult to understand most of the time. Most British accents sound more Scottish, and then others say more like ‘BBC’. To get used to the British accents listening to native British accent speakers through podcasts, sitcoms, etc., will help you understand the accents better.

North American – One of the easiest to understand even for students. The North American accent is more heard in films, TV shows on English channels, and also through popular songs. Singing along with the songs will help in interpreting the accent very well.

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  • Select a TV series and start watching it instantly. Watching more of these will make you watch and learn to understand clearly the story and the characters.
  • Sometimes, we need to practice understanding. So watch any English episode with English subtitles.
  • And for the second time, watch the episode without subtitles and try to make out words you have heard with subtitles before.

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