Man invents tool to teach people how to pronounce Tube station names

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A professional accent coach has created a new online tool designed to teach people the correct way of pronouncing Tube station names.

Luke Nicholson, the 29-year-old founder of language school Improve Your Accent, launched the tool last week in a bid to help people to pronounce the trickier station names.

Mr Nicholson, who is based in Great Portland Street, started the project in 2014 after finding his students repeatedly mispronounced place names around the city.

It took him three years to build the tool and record himself saying the names of the capital’s Tube stations and London Underground lines.

“I kept getting students who had no idea how to pronounce stations like Leicester Square, Southwark or Greenwich,” he said.

Tool: Accent coach Luke invented the site to help his students

“And there were no resources out there to tell people how to pronounce these names – most dictionaries don’t list them because they are place names.”

He recorded himself saying every single one of the 270 London stations as well as the various transport lines around the capital.

Mr Nicholson’s tips for tricky station names

Vauxhaull: ‘Vaux’ rhymes with ‘box’. No h sound.

Southwark: Pronounced like ‘suh-thk’. No w sound.

Leicester Square: ‘Leicester’ has two syllables and no r sound. Pronounced ‘LE-sta’.

“That’s why it took three years to complete!” he said.

“But I think it is part of the fun of English that we have a lot of words that aren’t spoken how they are written.”

Mr Nicholson decided to become an accent coach after helping out his Belgian friend who was having trouble speaking clear English.

“Then I realised I was good at it, and enjoyed it,” he said. “I mainly work with people who have a good grasp of the English language but struggle to be understood at work.”

The website works by playing a recording of Mr Nicholson reading out the tube station or line name and includes helpful tips for remembering the pronunciation. 

Mr Nicholson, who recently won IPSE Freelancer of the Year, said he is unsure of how many people have used the app but said he has had good feedback from his students.

“I have been tweeting Transport for London in the hope they notice,” he added.

“If they asked me to do a Tube announcement that would be a dream come true!”

Try it out here.

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