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Arts & Entertainment

Dialect Coaching: Research and Practice

Natalie Portman

Lesson time 09:22 min

When preparing for roles that involve a foreign language, accent, or dialect, Natalie works with her dialect coach, Tanya Blumstein. In this lesson, Natalie and Tanya demonstrate how they collaborate to shape the voice of a character.

Natalie Portman
Teaches Acting
Oscar-winning actor Natalie Portman shares the techniques at the heart of her acting process—and teaches you how to tackle your next role.
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Natalie Portman began acting professionally at 12 and won an Oscar before she turned 30. As a self-taught actor, she uses personal techniques to create compelling, complex characters. In her first-ever acting class, Natalie shows how empathy is at the core of every great performance, how to bring real-life details into every role, and how to build your own creative process. Get ready for your breakout performance.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Excellent!!! LOVED Natalie's style of teaching.

Great advice from a great actress. I deeply admire Natalie as an actress and as a person. Let empathy rule the world!!

This was just amazing. I learned so much and will take this with me throughout my career in acting.

I think I have great insight now. It was very compelling. I'm very glad to have watched this.


Julie H.

I tried to find the book Accents: A Manual for Actors suggested in the workbook but it is unavailable anywhere. Anybody knows where I could find it?

A fellow student

What a luxury to have a dialect coach! If you don't all is not lost. Primary sources and movies can help/ Loved the "do something physical" so that you are not distracted, but it is included in your speaking with the accent.

Alex F.

This is great! when I meet a person from a different country and became my friend I´ve always trying to emulate the sound and accent of this person trying to speak my language, because you can identify clearly what are the resources they use trying to sound like you when you speak so I really believe that have a conversation with those persons, is priceless to learn all the sounds and gesture you need to remember as a rule when you perform with a dialect.


Doing physical activities whilst learning the accent is a great way to get 'out of your head.'

Shunda G.

new been good at accent but this class was very helpful. will pick an accent weekly to start working on it

Madeline E.

As someone who really struggles with accents, I found this lesson extremely valuable and helpful. Thank you!

Sailland F.

This was really helpful thanks. It definitely helps to know how people pause to say um in different languages. -Maya

Inge V.

- “Practice it so that it’s second nature, so that when you’re doing it, you’re not thinking about the dialect and it just feels part of you.” A real person doesn’t think about how they talk, they just talk and it is natural for them. - “An accent should sound truthful and faithful, so that it does not distract your audience.” An accent is the real, natural way a person talks, so it must sound natural. - “Dialect is informed by many facets of your character’s background— where they come from and any experiences they might have had that influence the way they speak. This usually includes both upbringing and education. Dialect hinges on specificity.” There can be many variations of dialect, find the one for your character. - “Documentaries and interviews that feature people who speak in that dialect help illuminate accents, gestures, and colloquialisms.” - “Learning a dialect is about breaking down sounds and practicing them over and over again. A good way to practice is to take out the consonant sounds and just work with the vowel sounds.” - “When you start to learn new sounds, it’s good to exaggerate them so that your body can get used to them.” - “Practice your character’s dialect as much as possible. When you don’t have the luxury of working with a coach, find someone to rehearse with over and over again.” When you do it, you shouldn’t think about the dialect, it should just feel part of you. - “You can also try practicing while doing a rote physical activity. You want to practice your lines until they are ingrained in you. This will help you stay focused when you’re on set working with the director who may offer adjustments.” Do something physical while rehearsing, so that on set, the things you have to do and what the director is telling you, won’t distract you. - “Speaking relies on the way you hold your lips and jaw and the way your tongue sits in your mouth. Learning a new dialect often means adjusting these placements, so you need to develop an awareness of how your lips, jaw, and tongue all work together to create various sounds.” - “Find warm-ups for your chosen dialect.” Every dialect focus on different sounds and the shape of the mouth is different. Practice the specific shape through warm-ups.


That was a great lesson. every aspect of it is really helpful, it has a lot of information on accent and dialect practice I like the fact to read a sentence with just the vowel, and as well noticing the Um accent in each language you'll have to "learn".

James W.

I've just started narrating audiobooks, and this lesson was particularly helpful for working on character voices. Especially the point on noticing how people say the word 'Um'