IELTS Listening uses a variety of native English accents: British English, North American English and Australian/NZ/South African English. Before taking IELTS, make sure you feel comfortable listening to these different varieties.
Listen to the ten samples below of people with different accents reading the same story. These are all English accents you can expect to hear in the IELTS Listening test. The ten samples are divided by region as follows:
- UK (Southern England, Northern England, Scotland, Wales)
- North America (Northern USA, Southern USA, Canada)
- Southern Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
Try to notice any differences in pronunciation. Vowel sounds are especially likely to differ. Don’t overanalyse! – that’s a job for a professional linguist. Your goal should be to get comfortable with each accent so that you aren’t surprised or distracted when you hear it in the IELTS test.
Before we begin, here’s the story delivered in a standard ‘received pronunciation’ accent, the kind you might find on your textbook CDs or when listening to the BBC:
The full text of the story is further down the page. Each speaker also talks a little about his or her life after coming to the end of the story. Now here come the ten different accents.
Ten English Accents You Will Hear in IELTS Listening
1. British English – Southern English Accent
Speaker: Female, 24, London, UK
2. British English – Northern English Accent
Speaker: Male, 39, Manchester, UK
3. British English – Scottish Accent
Speaker: Female, 52, Glasgow, UK
4. British English – Welsh Accent
Speaker: Female, 20, Wales, UK
5. American English – Northern US Accent
Speaker: Male, 30, New York, USA
6. American English – Southern US Accent
Speaker: Female, 50, Alabama, USA
7. Canadian English Accent
Speaker: Female, 25, British Columbia, Canada
8. Australian English Accent
Speaker: Male, 28, Sydney, Australia
9. Kiwi English Accent
Speaker: Female, 46, Christchurch, New Zealand
10. South African English Accent
Speaker: Female, 38, Durban, South Africa
Listening Sample Text: Comma Gets a Cure
All the speakers read the text below. Note that this is NOT the kind of story you will hear in the IELTS listening test, but it does allow you to follow each speaker’s words and compare their pronunciation.
If you listen to the end of each sample, each speaker also tells a unique story about their life.
Well, here’s a story for you: Sarah Perry was a veterinary nurse who had been working daily at an old zoo in a deserted district of the territory, so she was very happy to start a new job at a superb private practice in North Square near the Duke Street Tower. That area was much nearer for her and more to her liking. Even so, on her first morning, she felt stressed. She ate a bowl of porridge, checked herself in the mirror and washed her face in a hurry. Then she put on a plain yellow dress and a fleece jacket, picked up her kit and headed for work.
When she got there, there was a woman with a goose waiting for her. The woman gave Sarah an official letter from the vet. The letter implied that the animal could be suffering from a rare form of foot and mouth disease, which was surprising, because normally you would only expect to see it in a dog or a goat. Sarah was sentimental, so this made her feel sorry for the beautiful bird.
Before long, that itchy goose began to strut around the office like a lunatic, which made an unsanitary mess. The goose’s owner, Mary Harrison, kept calling, “Comma, Comma,” which Sarah thought was an odd choice for a name. Comma was strong and huge, so it would take some force to trap her, but Sarah had a different idea. First she tried gently stroking the goose’s lower back with her palm, then singing a tune to her. Finally, she administered ether. Her efforts were not futile. In no time, the goose began to tire, so Sarah was able to hold onto Comma and give her a relaxing bath.
Once Sarah had managed to bathe the goose, she wiped her off with a cloth and laid her on her right side. Then Sarah confirmed the vet’s diagnosis. Almost immediately, she remembered an effective treatment that required her to measure out a lot of medicine. Sarah warned that this course of treatment might be expensive-either five or six times the cost of penicillin. I can’t imagine paying so much, but Mrs. Harrison-a millionaire lawyer-thought it was a fair price for a cure.
Copyright 2000 Douglas N. Honorof, Jill McCullough & Barbara Somerville. All rights reserved.
Listening samples are taken from IDEA – the International Dialects of English Archive. The IDEA website includes many more samples of native and non-native English accents from around the world. The accents featured here are the ones you can expect to hear in the IELTS Listening test.