My brilliant idea - Accent adventure


Age 7 upwards

From the age of seven, pupils are supposed to consider language variation and the differences between standard and dialect forms, but what if your class isn't a melting pot of different accents and dialects? This topic can end up dry as dust if pupils don't get to hear and talk about the differences for themselves. That's where the BBC Voices website is a godsend (

Want pupils to think about what accents they already know? Then try the quiz "How good is your ear?" Listen to the clips and see if they (and you) can tell their Bradford from their Brummie or Edinburgh from Glaswegian. Not sure whether "antwacky" means old-fashioned or a nickname for a newcomer to a group? At last I found out why I hadn't come across "mardy" pupils until I moved to the Midlands.

Best of all is the voice recording archive. There's a map of the British Isles covered in links to different recordings, so you can explore different parts of Scotland, for example, to show how there's not just one Scottish accent.

There are interview clips about new words, attitudes to accents, dialect words that grandparents might still use, plus lesson plans for nine to 13-year-olds.

John Gallagher is head of English at Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls.

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