I want to teach English not American. How to deal with it?

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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I want to teach English not American. How to deal with it?

Unread postby LeeInEngland » 06 Jan 2007, 17:50

Hello Lucy,

Maybe you can assist me.
This could be considered a rant, but I'm very passionate about it.

I will, in February be studying for a CELTA qualification. Once I pass I'll be going to China.

Being an Englishman, a native of the home to the English language, England; I really want to teach English and not the altered secondary form of the language, American.

What happens in a case where for example I'm teaching colours and all the text books are incorrectly spelt colors?
Even worse what if the students tell me "You haven't spelt it right"?

How do I explain that a book isn't an English book, but an American book, when it uses of z instead of s, and a bike tyre has nothing to do with being tired?

Before applying for a job, should I tell the school that I would be teaching English?
It seems crazy that I’d have to tell them that.

I would feel as though my home country, culture and use of the English language would be disrespected if I were forced to teach a language other than English in my English classes.
English is English, not British English or any other kind of English. I'm English, I speak English not British English and I live in England. The clue is in the name.

I strongly feel that if people are to teach English, it should just be that. English should be first and foremost; Anything else should be acknowledged and taught as a variety of English and not by deception as English.

Thank you,


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I want to teach English, not American. How to deal with it?

Unread postby Lucy » 10 Jan 2007, 18:30

Dear Lee,

If you feel more comfortable teaching the language spoken in the UK, then I suggest you stick with teaching that; it’s the language that comes to you naturally. It would be unnatural for you to teach the language spoken in the USA and you might make mistakes.

If your students tell you that the language you use is incorrect, you can tell them quite simply that the language used in the USA is not the same as that of your home country.

You could even give them reasons for this: for example, the different influences that have affected the two countries. You could also explain that words such as “platter” and “fawcet” which are used in the USA are actually old English. The English-speaking immigrants to America used this vocabulary; it is still in use there, whilst other words have come into use in the UK. In my opinion, this is what makes languages fascinating: they live!

As for the difference between “to tire” and “tyre”, you can tell your students that these words are homophones: they sound the same, but have different spellings and different meanings. You can also explain that “tyre” is a noun, whereas “tire” is a verb (tired is an adjective).

As for telling a future employer about your intention to teach English, I don’t know what to say. You should say something if the interviewer asks the question; if they don’t, it’s really up to you what you choose to say. An employer who uses American textbooks might hesitate to employ you.

Good luck with your course and your new career!


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