Do you want to be TEFL or TESOL-certified and teach in FanchuAn Zhen? Are you interested in teaching English in Yangzhou Shi? Check out ITTT’s online and in-class courses, Become certified to Teach English as a Foreign Language and start teaching English ONLINE or abroad! ITTT offers a wide variety of Online TEFL Courses and a great number of opportunities for English Teachers and for Teachers of English as a Second Language.
There are language differences to British and American English which developed over a few centuries during the birth and development of The United States of America. English or British subjects, a distinction pointed out by an English woman to me, are often annoyed with the words used by Americans carrying out the butchering of the Queen’s English and Americans are amused by the way they talk with too much flair. Can their differences in language between characterized as an ocean or just a river? Are there two languages or are they just the two initial dialects of English which turned in to the approximate twenty-six dialects that make up the American English language and the thirty-seven dialects that arise from the British English language? Though there were other countries and cultures to influence the formation and evolution of American English, when did this rift first start to occur that produced these two dialects? “Inhabitants of the New World first noticed that their English was different about one hundred years after settling Jamestown. Little wonder, for colonists didn’t have the ease of communication and transportation available today.” (Weiser, 2017) The spelling differences, though consistent, rarely changes the meaning and implementation of the word in structure and substance. There are different words to describe the same things in both dialects. Though the differences are readily recognized and understood first language user and effectively communicated by ESL teachers, second language students who incorporate English into their social and professional settings expose themselves to scrutiny by peers and acquaintances if they are not properly schooled. The differences in the dialects could have a profound effect on more advanced activities such as public speaking and essay and speech writing. “The first “official” reference to the “American dialect” was made in 1756 by Samuel Johnson a year after he published his Dictionary of the English Language. Johnson’s coinage of the term “American dialect” was not meant to simply explain the differences, but rather, was intended as an insult.” (Weiser, 2017). “One man is responsible for many of the spelling differences that exist between American and British English. His name was Noah Webster. Yes, the same Webster of Webster’s Dictionary. He decided that Americans should be independent, not only politically, but also lexically. That’s why you’ll notice an extra U in some British words like colour, armour, and humour. American English tends to end words with -ize rather than the British -ise. The -er ending of words like theater and center is reversed in British English words. Other words are almost unrecognizable as cognates, such as curb and kerb.” (Allen, 2016) Should a second language English learner use British or American English to learn English? “When choosing which kind of English to learn, the most important aspects to consider are the environment in which you would like to study, your budget and how much time you have available. The linguistic differences between various types of English are really quite small, whereas the differences are huge between the destinations in which you can study!” (Hammond, 2012) Though the differences of the English language between some British and American first language English speakers seems trivial, at first, in a mechanical sense, it is probably a notable difference for the second language English student. I surmise that Hammond argued that ESL students should not get distracted by the teacher being a British or American native English speaker. I feel that if the student’s teachers are competent, focused and professional, it should be a transition for the student that would be navigated with a modicum amount of effort. Most important to me, is where the students plan to use their acquired second language. If a student had an American English teacher and ended up working in an American business in their country or the United States, that would be ideal. Certainly, a graduate of an ESL School with an American teacher working in a British country could have communication issues. There are no more issues with either and the differences, as I stated before are negligible to first language speakers and would eventually become non issues for second language speakers who learned either dialect. A worst-case scenario could probably be if a class of first time ESL students started the semester with a British English teacher and the mid-term ended up with an American English teacher. I’d not like to see what the result would be but I do feel that it could be an issue and would best not be tested by an organization or teacher unless it is completely unavoidable. Second language English speakers would possibly be confounded and confused if they learned British English and went to an environment when the native speakers were American English (both 1st and 2nd language) speakers because of the differences between the two. Is it a show stopper? That could depend upon the person and culture. The worst case would be a student or even a group of students I as mentioned, would have to make adjustments and relearn a few points of the different dialects and though it may take some time, it will surely work out. Worst case, get a partner for exchanging language and learn the nuances of the English you have to adapt to the dialect in the where you are geographically located. Noting the history of the English language splitting of to two distinct dialects because of the colonization of America. Considering that out of pride evolved a new way of spelling English words came to be known as American English, a term used by all in this day and age. With today’s advances in technology, globally, we can collectively navigate whatever obstacles in teaching and learning arise with either dialect because we’re just that clever. Works Cited Allen, S. (2016). How British English and American English are Different. Unknown: Grammarly Blog. Hammond, A. (2012, August 14). British English vs. American English. Retrieved from ESL Stories: https://blog.esl-languages.com/blog/learn-languages/british-american-english-differences-varieties/ Weiser, K. (2017, May Unknown). Evolution of American English. Retrieved from Legends of America: https://www.legendsofamerica.com/ First language speakers + second language thinkers = second language speakers.