News / Asia

    American English Becoming More Popular in Former British Colony

    American English Becoming More Popular in Former British Colonyi
    X
    October 30, 2013 4:50 AM
    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
    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.

    You May Like

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    China Seeks On-Off Switch for Internet

    Public asks whose security is cybersecurity law aiming to protect

    UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence

    Burundian government accuses the UN of a campaign of distortion

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    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.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora