Approved TEFL Certificate

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V. B. - Canada said:
British English vs American EnglishThere are numerous problems that esl students may encounter when learning from British and American teachers, as these two parts of the world speak two very different types of English. Some of the main problem areas in the two types include spelling, verb tenses and vocabulary. Though American English was introduced to the country by British settlers in the early 17th century, the language there has evolved and developed its own dialects, accents, pronunciation, vocabulary, turns of phrase, and much more. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said that Britain and America were ?two countries divided by a common language.? While speakers of the two types of English can understand each other without much difficulty, there are several points which that cause confusion not only to learners but also to native english speakers. There are a few main spelling differences between British English and American English that students will quickly notice. The first one that many students and native speakers notice is the ?-our? in British English and the ?-or? in American English in words like colour/color, neighbour/neighbour and humour/humor. Another example is the ?-re? in British English and the ?-er? in American English when used in words like centre/center, theatre/theatre and metre/meter. Generally speaking, countries that were once British colonies, such as Canada and Hong Kong, use the British English spellings, so teachers from those countries must keep in mind that their way of spelling may be confusing to students who are influenced by American media. It is important for teachers to let students know that neither British nor American English spelling is more ?correct? than the other, but rather that they should also try to stick to one spelling system once they have started in order to avoid future confusion. While not as obvious as the spelling differences, there are a few instances in the two English styles in which the tenses used in sentences are different. For example, a British English speaker might say ?I have dropped my glass,? while an American English speaker would say ?I dropped my glass.? While the American version would not be considered correct in Britain, American English speakers often use both versions. British English speakers also prefer to express possession with sentences like ?I have got a puppy,? while American speakers might more naturally say ?I have a puppy.? students should be made aware that both forms are considered correct and may be used by a wide variety of English speakers regardless of their home countries. One of the main difficulties that even native english speakers have with the two types of English is the vocabulary. This may be a particularly difficult point for esl students, as they may hear or read many unfamiliar English words when watching or reading authentic materials. For example, a student learning from an American teacher may have difficulty understanding a British movie and vice versa. Some examples of uniquely British words include ?boot?, ?pram?, ?cheeky? and ?knickers? instead of ?trunk?, ?baby carriage?, ?nervy? and ?underwear?. On the other hand, an American teacher might use words like ?dude?, ?flashlight?, ?soccer? and ?gasoline? instead of ?bloke?, ?torch?, ?football? and ?petrol?. An esl teacher should take the time to alert students when words are one type of English or the other, and perhaps try to teach the other ways a word could be said in order to reduce confusion. If possible, it might be good for a teacher to consider doing an entire lesson devoted to American and British vocabulary, as there are dozens of words that will be unfamiliar, and topic may be particularly interesting to students for its practical applications in international culture. When learning English, there are already many difficult and complex components for students to study and remember, so having two distinct kinds of English to try to understand may just fuel any building frustration. Teachers can help their students avoid problems by pointing out the differences in spelling, tenses, and vocabulary when they occur rather than expecting students to figure them out on their own.

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