Choosing Voice Over For eLearning: Accents
We’re way past having standard “Queen’s English” for all voice overs. Thank heavens! Choosing the right voice and the right accent for your eLearning voice over is really important. Here are 5 things to think about when considering which accent to choose for an English eLearning voice over.
1. Received Pronunciation (RP) Accent
If your audience is multinational, then English “RP” (received pronunciation) is a natural choice. It’s not “posh” English, but standard “un-accented” British English that works well for people who have English as a second language. It’s easy to listen to, well-enunciated, and clear.
Received pronunciation has been the standard eLearning accent for years. But things have changed—and are always changing! RP may well be the right choice for you, but before you go ahead, it’s definitely worth thinking about your options.
2. Regional English Accent
If your audience is native English speakers, a regional British accent might work better. Think about the standard demographic of your listener. What’s an accent that they will relate to?
Are you selling eLearning for an institution based say, in the Manchester area? Would a regional accent work best, or a “hint” of a regional accent at least? Sometimes the full-on local accent can be too strong to work for a wider audience, but a gentle local accent might be just the thing.
Remember that regional accents aren’t just the stronger northern, western, and eastern British accents. There is a range of accents delivering a more “relaxed” take on English—many around the south and south-east of the UK in London, Kent, Berkshire, etc.
The accent of your chosen voice over can help to sell the brand of the organization as well as help it to appeal to a regional demographic, if that’s your target.
3. English With A Foreign Accent
Some eLearning is ideally suited to a voice speaking English with a foreign accent. For those jobs, it can be best to find a voice over that is, say, native Spanish and fluent in English. The most obvious example of eLearning where English with a foreign accent may be appropriate is language courses. We have a higher sense of trust in an Italian teacher who is clearly native Italian, than in an Italian teacher who sounds 100% English!
But beware, a teacher with a very strong foreign accent is likely to have the opposite effect. “If the teacher can’t master the English accent, how will I?”
But it’s not just language learning that can benefit from an ESL voice over. If your eLearning course in any subject is targeted toward a demographic that has a large proportion of speakers of English as a second language, then a fluent English speaking voice over with an accent other than native English can be more effective.
We all learn best from someone we can identify with. Who is your target audience? What accents will they trust and identify with? What works best for your content? Let’s be honest, if your course is directed to plumbers or mechanics, your target audience would probably relate better to English with a subtle regional accent than “received pronunciation.”
4. Multi-Accented Dialogue
Dialogue in eLearning is extremely effective. Aside from giving real-world scenarios for students to relate to, it can help to break up the learning, change the mood, and keep students engaged. Dialogue can be a great place to include voices with different accents that transport your audience out of the course and into a real-world scenario in which their learning comes to life.
We all encounter people with different accents in our real lives, at college, at work, out and about enjoying our hobbies. Having people with different accents voice your dialogue keeps things real. You can mix up the accents in various scenarios to keep things fresh and relate to as wide an audience as possible.
5. Test Run
Test run various accents with a sample of your target audience. People react strongly to voices so you’ll soon know which one works best. You can find voice artists with accent skills. They are ideal candidates to record a sample of your script in different accents for your test audience to comment on.