News / Asia

American English Becoming More Popular in Former British Colony

American English Becoming More Popular in Former British Colonyi
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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs