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British english vs American EnglishWhich one is the champion in the ultimate battle royal for english teaching supremacy? Could it be Britain or is it America? Most people would pick British english because the language originally was spoken in the United Kingdom. Others would say that there are more native english speakers in the united states
than in the United Kingdom. (American vs British english: Basic Differences and Influences of Change) Still others believe that the American variety has degenerated the english language. So, which is the ultimate champion when it comes to teaching the language to non-native english speakers?
Well history tells us or at least Wikipedia does that following the British colonisation from 16th to 19th century, english became the dominant language of the united states, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. (3) Today the english language is spoken all over the world and the two versions that are mostly taught to non-native english speakers are American and British. No one variety is shown to be more superior to other; they just have their own way of doing things.
Both english versions have differences when it comes to spelling, meaning, pronunciation, and grammar. For instance, the words ‘tire’ (American) and ‘tyre’ (British) have different spellings but the same pronunciation and meaning. Another example is the word pedophile. The spelling of the word is the same for both countries but the two have slightly different phonemic alphabets. The phonemic alphabet (?pe-d?-?f?(-?)l, ?p?- d?-?f?(-?)l) shows two different pronunciations. The first pronunciation is American and the second is British. Therefore, we have two different pronunciations for the same word. Yet another difference between the two varieties of english is that the same word could have different or additional meanings. In England the word trousers means pants in America but the same word pants means underwear in England. There are differences in the past participle for the British and American varieties also. The word ‘get’ is changed to ‘got’ in Britain; while in America it is changed to ‘gotten’. (1) One last example is the use of the auxiliary verb ‘have’. Speakers of British english would say, ‘Have you the time’? This is not so with speakers using American english. The auxiliary verb ‘do’ is used, so the sentence would look like this, Do you have the time. (2)
So, which variety of english is best taught to foreigner speakers? From the research I have read, it has been revealed to me that it really does not matter. What matters is consistency with the use of the language. (1) If you teach non-native english speakers American english then stick with it. Do not go back and forth between American and British english. It will only confuse your students and have a negative effect on their enthusiasm. If you are an American who teaches the ESL/EFL program and you want to use British english in your classes, there are many resources online and offline to guide you in distinguishing the differences between the two varieties. Just know American english has become very significant around the globe. The united states influences just about everything from mass media to the economy and from politics to fashion and beyond. Ok, it seems as if I am leaning toward American english. That really is not the case. The Queen’s english is a beautiful language; and it is my belief that it will never go out of style. It is the standard for the english language.
1. Beare, Kenneth. “Differences between American and British english.” english as 2nd Language- About.com Guide: 25/04/12
2. Algeo, John. “Language Myth #21- Americans are Ruining english.” Language Myths (1999) Penguin Press: 25/04/12
3. english Language - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: