Sunday, February 16, 2014

Teaching British English as an American

In honor of the fact that I'm going to England in two short weeks, I thought I'd do a little blog entry about teaching British English.  For the past year and a half, I have been teaching British English vocabulary to my students. I still use my native accent and teach them my American pronunciation of words, but my students learn British spelling rather than American.  This is logical for Spain. Considering their close proximity to the UK, it only makes sense to learn that dialect of English.  However, I still struggle with it.  I am constantly learning how to respell words that I have known for years like color/colour, center/centre and organise/organize.  Beyond spelling, there are some words that I need to completely swap for British English like trash/rubbish, eraser/rubber and vacation/holiday.  Even though I've been doing it for over a year now, it still feels pretty unnatural.   do my best to educate my students on the differences between British and American English when I get the chance, but I also try not to overwhelm them because it can be confusing.  Although the list could go on forever, I am going to make a relatively brief list of some of the differences that I come across on a semi-regular basis.

Spelling Differences
1) Swapping "-or" for "-our" like color/colour, neighbor/neighbour, favorite/favourite, honor/honour etc.
2) Swapping "-er" for "-re" like center/centre, theater/theatre, liter/litre, maneuver/maneuvre, etc.
3) Single "l's" turning to doubles like traveler/traveller, canceled/cancelled, counselor/counsellor, marvelous/marvellous, etc.
4) Sometimes our "e's" are replaced with "ae" or "oe" like fetus/foetus, esophagus/oesophagus, pediatric/paediatric, diarrhea/diarrhoea, etc.
5) "-ize" changes to "-ise" like organize/organise, realize/realise, practice/practise, appetizer/appetiser, etc.
6) Then there are just the random spelling differences with no pattern like tire/tyre, curb/kerb, cozy/cosy, pajamas/pyjamas, vial/phial, aluminum/aluminium, whiskey/whisky, etc

Vocabulary Differences (just a few because there's too many to name)
1) Counter-clockwise/ Anti-clockwise
2) Trash/Rubbish
3) Trunk/Boot (of a car)
4) Leash/Lead
5) Pharmacy/Chemist's
6) Fries/Chips
7) Chips/Crisps
8) Movie/Film
9) Wallet/Purse
10) Semi Truck/Lorry
11) Candy/Sweets
12) Flashlight/ Torch
13) Pants/Trousers
14) Underwear/Pants
15) Elevator/Lift

Phrasal Differences
1) British English uses "have got" much more than Americans.  Some example are Do you have....?/Have you got....?, I have to go/I've got to go, "I have three siblings/ I've got three siblings"
2) Telling time is phrased "Quarter past, half past and quarter to" rather than saying fifteen, thirty and forty-five.
3) British English also favors the present perfect more than Americans  such as saying "Have you done the homework?" rather than "Did you do the homework?"or "I've already eaten" rather than "I already ate"

Pronunciational Differences (once again, there are many but I'll try to keep it short Am English first)
1) Oregano: o-RE-ga-no/o-re-GA-no
2) Nike: ni-KEE/nike (said as one, e is silent)
3) Pedophile: pe-do-phile/ PEE-do-phile
4) Fillet: fi-lley/ fillet (said as one with t pronounced)
5) Z (the letter): zee/ zed

Well, that's my list. There's many more things I can ask. Although it's still pretty unnatural for me, it's been kind of fun to learn a different dialect of English. Hope you enjoyed the list.  Cheers (thanks)!

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