Teach English in Xitang Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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The English language learner is faced with many challenges in their pursuit of the tongue. They must learn new grammar, and copious amounts of new vocabulary. They may struggle with pronunciation or the many exceptions to rules of spelling. Depending on what their first language is, they may even need to learn a new alphabet. One challenge that is not often thought of, however, is the difference between British English and American English. British and American English have many dissimilarities, including in pronunciation, spelling and vocabulary. We have different words to describe the same object or action, and sometimes we have that same would but use it to describe different things. What is called corn in American is referred to as maize in England and what the British call corn, Americans term as wheat. American’s “elevator” is Britain's “lift”. Spelling differences such as “color” and “colour” and “theater” and “theatre” abound. Although it is not overly difficult for a native speaker to see through these spelling differences, if someone who is new to English were to encounter them out of context it would present a challenge. After all, “bear” and “bare” have entirely different meanings; it seems logical for the same to be true of “color” and “colour”. Changes between dialects are not limited to Britain and America, although these two are prime examples. Australian and Canadian English also have unique characteristics, and indeed, differences can even be found in the speech of different areas within each of these countries. While this is by no means the most pressing issue for students of English, it is important for them to be aware that there are differences between the languages dialects. If a student has had English teachers only from America throughout the course of their education, and then go to visit Great Britain, they would doubtless encounter some confusing situations brought on by not only having to communicate in a different language, but also surrounded by a pronunciation and vocabulary with which they are completely unfamiliar. How then can we best enable English language learners to they are able to overcome the hurdles put in place by geographical differences of a common tongue? It seems ridiculous to ask students to learn all the rules and vocabulary for both British and American English. An ideal solution would be to allow learners to experience the teaching influence of teachers from several countries and representing a variety of accents found within those countries. However, it is difficult to guarantee such a curated representation to all students. However, it is not unreasonable to ask that teachers make their students aware of some differences between the dialects, and to mention on occasion an alternative word, or way of saying something. Another idea would be to include a project in the English course curriculum that explores geographical differences in the language. In this way, even if a student has teachers mainly from one particular English-speaking nation, if they were to find themselves in another such country, they will at least a passing knowledge of where some difficulties may arise in communication, and thus be able to better prepare for it.