This paper explores the linguistically naive descriptions which one set of EFL learners provided when identifying and describing accents. First and second-year English majors at a French university were asked to do two tasks. First, they listened to two extracts to determine whether the speaker’s accent sounded more British or American, and to explain which features helped them to decide. Later they answered two questions: a) What do you do when you want to sound more like an American? and b) more like a British person? The analysis of their answers highlights learners’ underlying representations of accents as well as concept formation in relation to English pronunciation. I argue that this cognitive aspect of L2 learning should be addressed explicitly in instruction.