How should I use MEDEA to acquire a new dialect?

How you embody an accent depends on your individual learning style. Many actors  work  aurally, listening to samples and replicating or mimic-ing the sounds they hear. Others find a basic knowledge of phonetics useful in helping  to identify which version of an ‘L’  or ‘R’ (for example) is being spoken.

Others prefer a visual stimulus ‘watching’ rather than just ‘hearing’ new sounds being made. But for most people, acquisition begins with understanding your own dialect:  how and where in the mouth you create each vowel and consonant and how you user rhythm, tune and energy. The Links section on the homepage recommends a number of excellent books, sites and resources that will help explain this in more detail.

Dialects and Accents recorded samples

Each recording comprises four segments:

  • A snapshot analysis by an experienced dialect coach  highlighting particular sound shifts to listen out for
  • ‘Test sentences’ to help you identify differences in pronunciation (click here for test sentences)
  • A short monologue from the play ‘Medea’ by Liz Lochhead (click here for monologue text)
  • @2-3  minutes of free flow speech where the speaker talks about the roots of their dialect and where you can analyse the tune and rhythm in more detail

Every recording begins with ‘test sentences’ recounting the legend of MEDEA .  Each sentence focusses on the repetition of a particular consonant or vowel (highlighted in bold) and once you’ve played these recordings several times, the differences in pronunciation from your own way of speaking, should become obvious. Having identified the key shifts, you may find it helpful to re-play the sentences and monologue from each recording, verbally copying what you hear to help you secure the placement, rhythm and tune of the new dialect.

The  ‘Dialects in Performance’ section  is also designed to help you embody an accent – the text of each monologue is attached to the recording so you can try them for yourself. Watch the mouth shape of each actor – how might it differ from your own? and note the time each monologue takes (timings are visible on each clip for reference). Every dialect and accent has its own innate energy and speed – Scouse, for example, can be really quick – so consider recording the monologue in your own dialect first and then comparing it with the original. If you are slower or faster than the sample, consider adjusting your speed to  find the flow and energy of the new accent.