How to Speak With an African Accent

by Lex Hubbard

Africa is home to more than 3,000 languages. This diversity gives English speakers from the continent a variety of speech patterns that are recognizable as African. Accents vary greatly in different regions and socio-economic backgrounds. English is not the first language for many Africans, which has an impact on their accent. However, there are some similarities throughout, and an African accent can be learned and imitated with practice.

Isolate the sounds and phrases that are specific to the accent.

Choose an accent. People from South Africa do not sound the same as those from Nigeria. Some speak in Pidgin English, which is a specific dialect popular in West Africa. Others are more proper. Decide on the sound you want and listen to that speaking pattern as much as possible.

Pay close attention to vowel sounds. In most African accents, vowels are pronounced briefly. Soft A’s sound similar to how Americans say E. O’s and E’s sound like U’s. Listen to vowel combinations as well e.g., in year, about and road.

Focus on consonants. They also have a unique sound in an African accent. T's, D's, B's and K's are strongly enunciated. H's are hardly pronounced. There's a small tongue roll in L's and R's.

Learn the local colloquialisms. To truly sound like you are from the region, use phrases that are popular there. Pidgin English is unique in this way. “How are you today” becomes “How you dey.” Another example in South Africa: “café” is a generic term for any convenience store as opposed to a specific type of eatery.

Practice the accent. Watch videos and listen to recordings of Africans speaking and repeat what they say. Record yourself speaking. The more you speak, the more natural your new accent will sound.

Items you will need

  • Tape recorder
  • Recordings of African accents

About the Author

Lex Hubbard began writing professionally in 2008. He has written numerous published articles about a variety of topics such as video games, guitars and science. He is currently writing a novel. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in telecommunication from the University of Florida in 2009.

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