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British English vs. American English: Which Variation Is Better to Learn?

British English vs. American English: Which Variation Is Better to Learn? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

English is one of the most dynamic languages on the planet, which develops every day. Therefore, there are a lot of variations of the English language. Which kind of English should we learn?

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Olena K. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

English Variants

We used to know that there are British, American, Australian, and even Scottish English. Moreover, this is not a full list. This diversity complicates the process of learning a language. After all, who will help you to choose which particular English variant you need? What's more important to know: American or British English? On the one hand, it seems easy. We should study the British version because this is the real, classic English language. And on the other hand, one of the most common and simplified versions of English is American. The American culture is so popular now that most people follow fashion and choose to learn it instead of the language of the Queen.

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There are many differences between American and British English.

We can find them in phonetics, spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. The pronunciation of Americans, as a rule, is sharper and more dynamic, let's show you the difference by giving some of the most common examples, also mentioned in the British Council website eg: the sound [e] is pronounced almost like [ɛ]; the sound [ju:] after consonants almost changes into [j], many Americans pronounce the words student, new, duty as [[stu: dent], [nu:], [du: ti]; the sound [r] is pronounced both in the middle of the word and at the end.

Moreover, American English was formed under the influence of immigrants’ pronunciation from various countries.

Those people came to America willing to take risks. They were courageous and energetic. Many of them learned English after arriving on the territory of the American continent, which means they tried to do it in the shortest possible time. That is why they simply neglected considerable numbers of pronunciation rules for the classic English language. Even the intonation of phrases has been simplified: if in British English it has a huge number of characteristics (falling, rising and fall-rise), then in the American version of the English language everything is extremely simple: falling or even neutral. The American version of spelling also tends to simplify everything. There are a few examples which can help us to see it. For instance: color – color, favor – favor; program – program, dialogue – dialog.

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Now let’s have a quick look at the differences in grammar.

In American English, only simple times are usually used: Present, Past, and Future Simple. We can hardly hear the perfect time, like many other special time forms of English. As you can see, in this case, the main motto of American English is to be simple. We all know that grammar is the element of the language system that is least affected to change but even it was slightly modified and simplified in the process of creating the American version of the English language.

Why should we study British English instead of American?

There are several answers to this question. Firstly, it is because the British version is a classic universally recognized version of the English language. Secondly, the British version is richer and more diverse than American English. Thirdly, if you choose to study British English, you will form the most complete understanding of the grammar. Fourth, you will know the beautiful correct pronunciation.

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And most important, we should always start to learn something from the very beginning. The British English language is rich, elegant, and unique. Only then, when you know the main core of the language, you may learn a bright, changing, simple, with slang expressions American or some other exotic English.

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