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1. Paul helps actors to …
1) sound more educated.
2) perfect regional or historical accents.
3) learn different languages.

2. Paul usually meets actors for the first time …
1) at his home.
2) during filming.
3) before filming.

3. What does Paul say about American opera singers?
1) They learn how to sing in a foreign opera quickly.
2) It can be a challenge to help them sing in foreign operas.
3) They often sing foreign operas better than the natives do.

4. If an actor can’t do an accent well, Paul says the problem is caused by …
1) himself.
2) the production company.
3) the actor.

5. What happens when an actor is only 99% correct with an accent?
1) His or her efforts are still praised.
2) Audiences are disappointed.
3) No one can notice the imperfection.

6. Paul helps language learners …
1) through lessons on his website.
2) in one-to-one sessions.
3) in the school where he teaches.

7. How do foreigners sometimes make mistakes with the ‘t’ in English?
1) They produce the sound wrongly.
2) They miss it out altogether.
3) They put it in the wrong places.

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Presenter: Hi everyone and welcome to the programme, Acting Up. With us today is dialect coach Paul Richards, who’s going to talk about his work with people and accents. Thanks for being here, Paul.

Speaker: You’re welcome.

Presenter: So for starters, tell us what you do exactly.

Speaker: I do a couple of things. One is I work with entertainers, such as actors, in helping them adopt accents for productions set in past eras or specific geographical locations. Some actors – although very talented – need a bit of extra help getting the pronunciation perfect. I also help individuals who simply want to improve their pronunciation, such as second-language learners who want to sound more like natives.

Presenter: With actors, do you work on set or do you meet them privately?

Speaker: Generally, I work with them at the film or TV studio. We meet at various times. Some meetings are arranged during the very first read-through of a script. Other times, though, I don’t see the actors until the day before they go on camera. It depends on scheduling and the actors’ needs.

Presenter: You also work with opera singers, don’t you? How do you help them ?

Speaker: Many operas have a specific cultural setting and cover a particular period in history, like films do. So for certain productions, the singer may need to sing in French, German, or Italian. Sometimes, even if the singer is French and they’re performing in a French opera, they’ll need some minor assistance, although that’s much easier to do than, say, help an American opera singer in a French opera. That can be quite hard work!

Presenter: I see. Is it challenging work in general? With entertainers, I mean.

Speaker: It depends on the entertainer, really. With actors, although they can be very talented, they can be limited in their accent range. American actors, for example, can speak like a New Yorker or an American Southerner better than they can do an accent of British English, such as Cockney or Welsh. I do my best, but at some point, the actor has got to face the reality that it’s not an accent they can do. It can be a problem in the believability of the performance.

Presenter: Yes, we’ve all seen a film in which the actor is supposed to be British but you can tell that they’re not.

Speaker: Well, sometimes they fool audiences, as long as the audience isn’t British! It’s almost impossible to get the accent perfect, but if the actor puts in an enormous effort and gets the accent 99% correct, their hard work is recognised and appreciated.

Presenter: You say you’ve also worked with other individuals, such as language learners. Can you tell us a hit about that?

Speaker: Certainly. I do this kind of work in private lessons. I have a website which lists my services and explains how I can help. We learn our native accents, whether they be British, French, Spanish or whatever, when were children. So in a sense, we have to ‘unlearn’ some ways of pronouncing sounds in order to adopt the new ways.

Presenter: Can you give us an example?

Speaker: Yes, well, the way we produce individual sounds can be modified. Take “t” for instance. In some languages, there is no puff of air that comes out after saying the “t” but in English, there often is. Learning how to produce that puff of air, and then getting into the habit of doing it, adds one piece of native-sounding pronunciation to a person’s speech …