Most of the students I see every day have Japanese accents when they speak English. Some have American accents, which tells me they probably had mostly American English teachers and likely watch more Hollywood movies and American TV shows than those from the UK or other countries. But every so often, I meet a student with a very pronounced British accent.
This article from the New York Times explains, somewhat tongue in cheek (sorry, I couldn’t resist), “How to fake a British accent.”
Practicing the phrase “Ten tiny typists tripped through the tunnel” phrase, focusing on clearly pronouncing the “T” sounds, will help, says the article. Americans’ tongues are lazy, it continues. I can’t argue with that, although it’s certainly not a conscious decision.
Here’s how to do it (the article says David Cameron has a perfect British accent):
And I’ve heard lots of people say (and here, too) that Renee Zellweger (who is from the US) did a good job in her role as the English Bridget Jones:
And then, here’s how not to do it:
Keep in mind, of course, that there is not only one kind of British accent. Just as there is no one kind of American or Japanese accent. The article does mention that David Cameron uses what linguists call Received Pronunciation. Some people used to (still?) call it BBC pronunciation, but these days, even BBC announcers have a variety of accents. How about NHK announcers? Do they all speak in a uniform “standard” Japanese?