News / Asia

American English Becoming More Popular in Former British Colony

American English Becoming More Popular in Former British Colonyi
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October 30, 2013
Hong Kong was a British colony for 156 years before reverting to Chinese control in 1997. In this city where English is still widely spoken and taught, many are now opting to learn American English.

American English Becoming More Popular in Former British Colony

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Zlatica Hoke
— Hong Kong was a British colony for 156 years before reverting to Chinese control in 1997. English is still widely spoken and taught today, but many are now opting to learn American English instead of the British variety.
 
Hong Kong resident Victor Chan’s children, who attend an English class on weekends, are learning to pronounce words the American way. Chan feels this is most advantageous for their future.
 
“I intend to send my sons to America for further study, so I choose American accent. American accent is better for their employment in Western countries,” explained Chan.
 
Nature EQ is one of a growing number of schools in Hong Kong offering American English classes.  When Frankie Ng opened the school 17 years ago, he had only 40 students. Today, the school works at maximum capacity with 350 attending.
 
“The sound of American English is so defined and clear, and easy to teach and to be understood,” said Ng.
 
However, the pupils seem to be less concerned with what is clear and more so with which style will be more useful.  
 
"I think [American English] is getting more and more important, and is maybe taking over the dominance of British English, so I'm willing to learn," said Sam Yu, a student at Nature EQ.
 
In Hong Kong's Tseung Kwan O district, the "American English Workshop" has grown from 20 students a week when it opened a year ago to more than 180 today.
 
Public schools still primarily teach British English, but private language schools offering American English are growing in the former British colony.
 
Observers say American English is taking over across the world as the language of international business. The rise of American idiomatic expressions and the American accent in other areas is often ascribed to the world's increased exposure to American culture, especially through movies, videos, computer games and the Internet.
 
Language teachers in Hong Kong say wealthy Chinese mainlanders also help fuel the demand, crossing into Hong Kong for a wider choice of educational opportunities.  
 
But in the streets of Hong Kong, traditional British English still prevails.
 
"We can understand both, but for what we speak, we speak [with] the British accent," said one local woman.
 
"The British is better I think," commented a local man.
 
Meanwhile, as young people decide which style to study, a growing number want to learn American English.

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Comments
     
by: Yuki from: Japan
November 04, 2013 8:29 AM
Nowadays most people recognize English is worldwide language. So respecting each accent would be a key to communicate well, I think. For us Japanese, we usually learn American English at school but British pronunciation is way easier for Japanese than American one.(Personally, American one is easier for me)

Here's some detail:If you pronounce R sound with British accent, you don't have to roll up your tongue. We don't have the way of pronouncing in Japanese too. British people speak each word sharply, we also speak like that. We usually open up mouth wider to pronounce clearly. By contrast, American English is unnecessary to use cheek muscle not so strongly... After all, pick whichever you pronounce learn easier, more interesting, that would be important.

In Response

by: sok chanyuth from: Cambodia
November 24, 2013 8:52 PM
But I think American English is easier to pronounce than British.


by: Nguyễn from: US
November 01, 2013 8:17 PM
It's $$$$$.
People go where the money is. Better chance to land a job !


by: yanrui from: China
November 01, 2013 10:29 AM
I absolutely agree with you,for my part,american english is easier to learn.Maybe just because I am accustomed to it.


by: Hannah Lee from: CHINA
October 31, 2013 1:50 AM
It is true that American English becomes more and more popular. But for us , we feel American speak English so fast. However, British people speak slowly.In universities ,we have American teachers, they teach us English. After graduation, I work in a foreign trade company, Indian speak British English!


by: keen from: new york
October 30, 2013 10:56 PM
no matter which accent these "brit former colony" kids learn, they will end up with their unique accent of that specific region. I am from Hong Kong and I know the situation there. We were taught british accent from day one but we still speak with unique Hong Kong accent after all. so I just wonder what the point is of this article?

In Response

by: Chrisgao from: china mainland
October 31, 2013 11:38 PM
I agree what u said. but the accent of British english is really harder than american english for understanding . so i guess it is not convenient for communication that is why many people choose speak english in an American way...... as for my self, i just try to speak every word clearly and make the sentence simple and short.. anyway it is all for effective communication, right ?


by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
October 30, 2013 3:53 AM
I guess these children are native speakers of British English. But is the difference between British and American English so large that they should learn the differences in school ?

In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
October 30, 2013 11:26 PM
Mr. Simon, thank you for your answer. I understand it. ^-^

In Response

by: Simon Kaweesa from: Arizona
October 30, 2013 10:58 AM
American English is easier as it avoids the rules especially among the less educated Americans. You will hear:"There`s five people" and "My car drives good" and nobody complains. So long as the message goes across. Lazy students who don`t want to be bothered by grammar will look for shortcuts by learning American English.

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