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Varieties Of English

Looking at different flavors of English: all the different accents, dialects, pronunciations, registers and so on.

Remember, there is not just one English that we TEFL teachers teach – there are over 57 varieties!

Accents and TEFL

Your accent is the way you say words when you speak. It’s all about pronunciation and has nothing to do with grammar or syntax.

With accents, two people may say precisely the same words, but make them sound completely different.

So, each person has their own particular accent. However we can group accents into various categories:

Regional – for example when people from the North of…

American English‏‎

American English – often abbreviated to AmE – is a variant of the English language, spoken mainly in the United States‎. About two-thirds of the world’s native speakers of English live in America and speak this variant.

English‏‎ was introduced to North America by British settlers during the colonization period (17th century). It was also influenced by the many different nationalities which settled in the US since then and, to…

Australian English‏‎

Australian English (AuE) is a variant of the English language, spoken mainly in the Australia. Australian English began to diverge from British English shortly after Australia was settled in the late 18th century. It is similar to New Zealand English and bears some resemblance to certain dialects of South East England. Generally speaking, Australian English spelling corresponds to British English spelling. AuE makes a great deal of use of diminutives…

Black English‏‎

Black English is a very broad term used to refer to British English and American English‏‎ as spoken by the black communities in the US and the UK. To a lesser extent it’s also used to refer to black communities in places like the Caribbean and Africa. Two of the major sub-varieties of Black English are African American Vernacular and British Black English (see below for more on these). Interest in the…

British English

British English (BrE) is a variant of the English language, spoken mainly in the United Kingdom. Along with American English‏‎, British English is one of the main variants taught in most ESL/EFL programs.

Bear in mind, however, that here is, in fact, no single British English variation of English. Instead there are a considerable number of variations mainly found in different locations. Thus, for example, there is:

Scottish…

Different Types of English in TEFL

When you teach English as a foreign language you don’t just teach “English”.

No, you teach a specific type of English depending on your class: different people need different English.

You can view this in the same way as dance. If you go to a dance class you don’t just learn to dance in general but instead learn Latin or Ballroom or Jazz or Modern, etc…

Drunken Australians and the Truth about their Accents

There’s a new story circulating on the interweb right now which tells us that the Australian accent came about because the European settlers to Australia were all drunk and so they passed on their slurred speech to their children.

Apparently these settlers would come home from a hard day herding kangaroos or sheering rabbits or something and get drunk on a case of VB then talk in…

Received Pronunciation‏‎

Received Pronunciation (RP) is a form of pronunciation used in British English.

RP, then, is simply a particular accent of English.

Although it has changed over the years, it can be heard listening to Queen Elizabeth, Brian Sewell and others (see the video below for an example of this); generally this means people of higher social class in the UK.
RP as an Accent
Most accents in the UK…

Varieties of English Grammar

This article looks at major grammatical differences between British English and American English. For a list of vocabulary differences between the two varieties of English, see Varieties of English Vocabulary.

 
Present Perfect vs Past Simple
BrE sometimes uses the present perfect whilst AmE uses the past simple.

BrE:
Have you eaten all those biscuits?

AmE:
Did you eat all those…

Varieties of English Spelling

There are several major varieties of English‏‎: American, British, Australian and so on.

This article looks at differences in spelling between these. It is a general guide which covers the majority of cases, however remember that there are exceptions which will need to be taught to your TEFL class on an as-needs basis.

On that note, in general it does not matter which variety of English spelling…

Varieties of English Vocabulary‏‎

This page shows major differences in vocabulary between different varieties of English‏‎.  The vocabulary differences here are mainly between American English‏‎ (AmE) and British English (BrE), the two most prevalent varieties of English‏‎. However, bear in mind that there is a great deal of overlap between the two (often due to cultural influence) and the differences are not as clear-cut as might be imagined. Note that in the lists below…

Varieties of English‏‎

Varieties of English are the different kinds of English used around the world. Often these are geographically based. The varieties are more or less similar and while most English speakers can understand each other, there are occasional problems.

The four people in the picture (Whoopi Goldberg, Kylie Minogue, the Queen and Usain Bolt) all speak English as their mother tongue but very differently.
Background
English has been the…