Best audio content to shadow to acquire a "neutral" English accent?

I wonder what audio materials (Youtube, etc) you would recommend for “shadowing” practice for someone, who is fairly fluent in English, but wants to work on (foreign) accent reduction?

Would shadowing different sources (e.g. American and British speakers) not lead to a “weird” mixture of an accent?

Is there such a thing as a neutral English accent that foreigners can acquire? To me, for example, Luca Lampariello sounds neither Bristish nor American, but he does not have an obvious Italian accent either!? (How to Learn a Language Every Day (Without Giving Up) - YouTube ). How does he get there?

There is not really a “natural” English accent. What you see with people like Luca is in fact a “mixed” accent of sorts – his speech seems to be influenced by a more American prononciation with some continental overtones as result of speaking other languages, as well as a slight Italian accent. (None of this is meant as judgment for his English, which is excellent.)

Most people will speak English with the accent that’s more prevalent in the area around them – and a lot of fluent English speakers end up with a hard to define “mixed” accent of sorts, which is perfectly fine.


To me (a midwestern American) it sounds like Luca has probably aimed for a neutral American accent. He has not completely mastered it, but his foreign accent is very light and not at all a distraction.
I don’t know if there is such a thing as an accent that is neutral between British and English. There are English accents that sound “lighter” to me and which are easy to listen to. Tom Scott and Steve Mould on YouTube are two that come to mind, whereas Paul Shallito’s accent (Curious Droid channel) is a bit stronger. It would be interesting to hear what different Brits think of those British accents and of various American accents.
In any case, accent reduction is the right goal, as ellimination is nigh well impossible for most people.

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I agree. No such thing as a ‘natural’ English accent.
It might be said in the past in British English that there was a standard ‘Received Pronunciation’ accent, which you could roughly define as belonging to newscasters on the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). But in recent years the BBC has diversified considerably and it is not at all unusual to have Scottish, Welsh, Irish and all manner of regional inflections on radio and television programmes. The BBC still provides a very good standard of British English pronunciation, with serious expertise on how to deal with new words coming into the language and also on constantly changing pronunciations.
Elocution classes were at one stage given to schoolchildren and even University students in Britain to ‘cure’ them of regional accents, but that is not so common a feature now. However, this is still a very vexed topic, overlain as it is in Britain with ‘class analysis’ in what is still a very class-ridden society.
Take British Primeministers of the recent past: some, like state school educated Ted Heath and Margaret Thatcher, both from quite humble backgrounds but having gone to Oxford University, spoke with a notoriously ‘plummy’ accent - Mrs Thatcher even had a voice coach as Primeminister to lower her tone from the slightly shrill ‘handbag’ voice she had at one stage. Then there was the notable regional accent from Yorkshire of Harold Wilson, elected four times as Primeminister, and the ‘educated Scottish Edinburgh accent’ of Gordon Brown, and the distinctly Southern English tones of ‘Farmer Jim’ Callaghan - for Labour Primeministers their accents were a distinct asset for them. The private school Eton and Oxford Primeministers of a previous era - Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home -never made any pretence at having a ‘man of the people’ tinge in their pronunciation.
What is more intriguing is that, in recent years, there has been a distinct ‘flattening’. The classic example is Tony Blair, privately educated at the ‘Eton of Scotland’, Fettes School, then at Oxford and a career as a Barrister, who has become more ‘Estuary English’ as the years go by. Theresa May was the archetypal Vicar’s daughter, and educated both in state and private schools before going to Oxford University, but similarly made a conscious effort not to ‘talk posh’. And with Boris Johnson the Eton and Oxford accent has been slipping for some time, probably deliberately - although after his near-death experience with Covid-19 commentators have detected a certain new huskiness.
Sad to say, most British people will ’pigeonhole’ anyone immediately they open their mouths to speak English, usually along class lines. And they will certainly pick up immediately on anyone talking with a ‘Mid Atlantic’ accent.
But what they will always appreciate is someone with a trace of a ‘foreign’ accent speaking coherent English, and they will, rightly or wrongly, ascribe superior intelligence to that person as being ‘multi-lingual’… While your aim to acquire a more ‘neutral’ tone is entirely laudable, you can rest assured that in the meantime your slight German tinge will be a significant plus factor for you!


I think Luca sounds just like an English speaker from North America (USA/CANADA), but his use of words is heavily influenced by his reading and content consumption just like anyone. If you’re comparing yourself to someone, be careful with Luca as his proficiency level is off the charts! His ability to delivery information in English is above the vast majority of native English speakers (myself included). You should probably watch some of his videos to see what he does to work on his accent in various languages.

I would think that consuming most common media and entertainment sources would lead to a very neutral accent. Of course some films and tv shows commonly feature 1 or 2 characters with a more noticeable accent, but I think the majority of speakers in all of these sources have a mild accent that is easily understood by all speakers of English.

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Hi Jan,
Back in my prime time I was obsessed with accent reduction.
I used to shadow a lot especially while watching TV (Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Top Gear ,Gavin and Stacey etc.) There was a huge variety of regional pronunciations in these shows and while shadowing I was trying to overdo each one these accents.
In my opinion you should choose a personality/actor that you would like to to sound similar to and try to imitate him.
Below you can see video of me speaking english, since this video was posted I’ve been living in the UK for nearly a decade.
I’ve been living in South West Birmingham for the past 8 years and whenever I’m visiting other parts of UK I’m being told that I’m speaking with very thick Brummie twang,(most of my co-workers are in their 50s and 60s born and bred in Birmingham). So in short I’ve never tried to sound Brummie, but due to the amount of input I acquired it unconsciously.


Hi Jan, good question. As you know Britain has so many different accents, and there is no such thing as a “neurtral” accent in my opinion. After all, our accent is a product of our exposure in that language. For example I am British but even my accent has evolved when moving from city to city. Another example is my wife who is Italian-born, she has adopted broadly northern accent due to talking to me every day. Luca most definitely has an American accent! (definitely not British!). I guess this is because he grew up maybe with an American English teacher or watched alot of american TV shows. If i were you, I would try to watch some really authentic material like Adrian mentioned already (Two pints of Lager and a packet of crisps, Gavin and stacey, Top Gear). I wouldn’t listen to shows like Doctor Who as almost nobody in Britain speaks like the Queen :slight_smile:

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