There’s a lively stream of video clips doing the rounds on social media: of lectures, podcasts and classroom lessons being taught by people with VERRRRRRY strong accents, making the material more or less unintelligible. Before we go any further, I am not having a go at people who speak English with an accent. And I have a solution.

By the way, the title of this blog refers to one particular clip which seems to be about “one unmarketable tomato” (and in fact that mayyyy be what she is saying). Check it out.

Microphone, Sarah Lockett

I was recently listening to several podcasts in the car with my daughter, on Molecular Clocks (she is studying Biomedical Sciences). Molecular Clocks are the theory that DNA and protein sequences evolve at a rate that is relatively constant over time and among different organisms. So, quite an erudite topic.

Why did we listen to SEVERAL podcasts, and not just the one? Because we kept starting, and the accents were so indecipherable, we had to give up. We spent all our time guessing what words the speakers were trying to say, then attempting to catch up with the actual content, and losing the thread. We repeated to each other what we THOUGHT the words were, and sometimes just shrugged and looked at each other mystified.

It was a ‘switch-off’, which is not what the podcasters, advertisers, sponsors or organisers wanted!

Now, I must say that the speakers were fantastic experts in their subject – but not at broadcasting (at least not in English). So, I see a market opportunity – they write the lectures, and someone else (me) who is great at enunciating and communicating in English, delivers it!

You’re welcome.

Get in touch if you want me to do this – very reasonable rates. We can liaise on the very technical phrases, terms and words which may be unfamiliar to me (although I can find audio clips of most technical words, brand names and proper nouns on the internet/YouTube).

My point is:

I understand it is difficult to learn another language flawlessly (I have written before about trying to learn Hindi for a project in 2023 – people looked at me nonplussed – I obviously wasn’t pronouncing the words properly). I will always praise anyone who is trying to learn English, and maybe SOME audiences will prefer a heavily accented version (eg the Chinese find it easier to understand Chinglish, and the Indians like English spoken with the subcontinent’s regional accent). But my advice to lecturers, professors and any other educators is: definitely make a clear, understandable English version voiced by a professional native speaker, for your English speaking audiences. A 1-hour lecture might cost less than you’d think.

Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett is a former BBC News / Sky News anchor who currently presents a variety of content for corporate clients and delivers media training.
She has presented on BBC News and Sky News, plus reported for Channel Four News, 5 News, Reuters and others.
She now hosts webinars and conferences, chairs corporate/academic panel discussions, hosts award ceremonies and events. She writes, presents and produces training videos, as well as voiceovers (both factual and drama/comedy). She has written two books and is also working as an actor.

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