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The Heroes We Didn't Know We Needed: World Languages Department Offers New Course on How To Speak in a British Accent
Sara Courtney

When English and Art History teacher Nigel Paton approached Upper School Director Reid Cottingham about offering a new course titled “How to Speak in a British Accent” in the World Languages department, Dr. Cottingham was initially skeptical. What did this course really offer students, she wondered. Why was it truly necessary? And that’s when Nigel explained its necessity.

“The ability to sound sophisticated,” says Mr. Paton, who is from England, “regardless of whether one has actually achieved sophistication, is a quintessential contribution of the British accent.”

Dr. Cottingham was immediately supportive. “I have no doubt our students will lead well-rounded, sophisticated lives,” she says. “But when Mr. Paton presented the opportunity to accelerate that, I was simply bowled over, as they say across the pond.”

While students were initially disinterested in the course, presenting a sticky wicket for the World Languages Department, Mr. Paton and Dr. Cottingham held out hope. “We kept a straight ball,” says Dr. Cottingham. At this, Mr. Paton interrupts.

“You kept a straight bat,” corrected Mr. Paton, before digging into his fish and chips.

Some faculty and staff have quietly pointed out the class is not as challenging as other subjects, but Dr. Cottingham has kept calm and carried on. “That’s not cricket,” she shakes her head sadly, before taking a bite of her cucumber sandwich and enjoying a spot of tea.

Now students say ‘Cheerio!’ to the course, where they will learn how to effortlessly infuse British-isms over a donkey’s year. “That means a long time,” says Dr. Cottingham knowingly.

There are just a few open spots left in the course, so get ready to perfect your stiff upper lip. To sign up, click here.




Photos by Natalie Gonalez.

Contact: Sally Courtney, Communications Writer