American vs British Accent – Which Accent should English Learners be taught
As teachers, do we want to force a certain accent on our students?
You don’t want to do that. Your goal is for students to have a good sounding accent, to be clear and
understood. So should we make our students adopt an accent?
How important is this?
A fantastic question: Most students prefer an American accent because that’s what you see
in movies or in the media. So many students prefer learning the American accent and also if they want to perhaps immigrate to America in the future. They want that accent to use when traveling or living in another country.
A lot of people think a popular American accent makes them sound more sophisticated
and it’s easier to understand. Let’s take The Avengers for example. The Avengers are known across the world and the way that they speak, so most English learners want to adopt a similar accent.
On the other hand, about 10 to 20 percent of students actually prefer having a British accent.
Especially students from the Commonwealth or Chinese students would like to adopt a British accent.
A TV show that promotes the British Accent is Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch has a beautiful accent with received pronunciation, the Queen’s English.
Teachers should not force a particular accent on their students. Our goal is to help our students develop a clear, understandable accent. It is up to them what accent they naturally develop or strive towards.
Many people discuss whether a bad accent is a bad thing – If you have an accent it could have a negative impression on you. Especially if you have to communicate or go for a job interview. Therefore we should encourage our students to move more towards a neutral accent.
But accents bring color to the English language. The fact that people from around the world have different accents makes the language beautiful. I personally love listening to different accents from around the world. Indian, Russian or Korean accents make life worth living and communicating with people from across the world a joy. If everyone had the same accent it would make life so boring. Even dialects within different countries add richness to the English language.
Share your accent with your students and teach them the differences between the pronunciation between American and British accents.
But, it also depends on your what employer and students want. If they prefer a certain accent, do your best to help them achieve their learning goals.
Whatever your accent, the accent your learners want – The priority is being clear, understood and fluent. So make it happen!