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  • How can speed reading be useful? June 27, 2010
    The second of two articles on speed reading by Adam Harley: Speed reading is an essential skill when you need to read large information quickly. Speed of reading means how many words you read in a minute. Different people have different speed of reading which can be improved by using different techniques and methods. It is [...] […]
  • An introduction to speed reading June 24, 2010
    The first of two articles on speed reading by Adam Harley: Speed reading isn’t too difficult. Try a couple of these tips and techniques, and you can already increase your reading speed. Speed reading is an enhanced form of reading. It uses many of the same methods and ideas, but enhances them to the point where speed [...] […]
  • 5 things you must check before choosing a TEFL course June 21, 2010
    Unfortunately there has never been one single regulatory body for the TEFL industry, notes Jimmy Krangol. Right now there are numerous TEFL schools springing up everywhere, all claiming that their course is better than the rest or, that they offer the most accredited TEFL certificate. It can be a daunting task trying to select the right [...] […]
  • Teaching English in Korea… an unofficial guide May 8, 2010
    Over the last few years Mike Pickles has received many questions about teaching English in Korea. He has prepared this unofficial guide to give teachers basic information on the background of teaching English here so that they can be better informed before committing themselves to any particular job. Unfortunately some people come to Korea under [...] […]
  • 7 reasons to TEFL in Thailand April 28, 2010
    It’s hardly difficult to see Thailand’s appeal, claims Emma Foers, what with its gorgeous beaches, buzzing cities and fantastic food – but just in case you need a little persuading as to how amazing TEFLing there would be, check out these seven reasons to teach in Thailand: 1) Enthusiastic kids Don’t believe anyone who tells you that [...] […]
  • 3 easy steps to becoming a TEFL teacher April 22, 2010
    You may have heard a little rumour that, as a fluent English speaker, you can magically get paid to teach English in amazing places all over the world. It sounds a bit too good to be true, but in fact, Emma Foers suggests, it’s not! Teaching English abroad is as simple as 1, 2, 3… Step [...] […]
  • Keeping control of your TEFL class April 12, 2010
    There will be times in your TEFL career when you are really challenged in terms of student motivation and classroom management, notes Bruce Haxton. Students, especially children, can be temperamental – but one of the things you’ll quickly learn is that how you behave as a teacher largely dictates how your students behave. Here are [...] […]
  • 6 things to check before accepting your TEFL job March 15, 2010
    It’s tempting to get carried away with the excitement of going to a new country and being accepted for a job is a great feeling, notes Bruce Haxton, but before you start packing your suitcase, make sure you check out the conditions – they’ll make or break your experience of teaching abroad! Here are 6 [...] […]
  • What type of English can I teach? March 1, 2010
    In this article Chris Soames looks into your options as a native speaker. If you’re a British TEFL teacher, you’ll be asked the question ‘do you teach American English?’ more often than you’ll hot dinners. Your response should always be a firm, but polite, ‘no’. This is nothing to do with snobbishness or a belief that British [...] […]
  • Being Certified in TESOL or TEFL has Benefits February 23, 2010
    By Frank Collins TEFL and TESOL are acronyms for teaching English as a foreign language and teaching English to speakers of other languages. If you plan to teach English overseas then getting a TEFL or TESOL Certificate is a prime requirement. Subscribe to The ELT Times by Email Nowadays there is huge demand for TEFL and TESOL certified [...] […]

What type of English can I teach?

In this article Chris Soames looks into your options as a native speaker.

If you’re a British TEFL teacher, you’ll be asked the question ‘do you teach American English?’ more often than you’ll hot dinners. Your response should always be a firm, but polite, ‘no’.

This is nothing to do with snobbishness or a belief that British English is somehow ’superior’. It is simply an acknowledgement that you are not American; you’ll probably have little knowledge of American English or culture other than what you see in Hollywood films. Usage of American English is different from that of British English, and beyond knowing the words ‘trashcan’ and ‘garbage’ American conversation won’t be natural. Teach the English that you know!

Our advice to TEFL teachers is to always teach the type of English you are comfortable with speaking. If you try and adopt a different variety, it will sound strange and stilted; this means that your students will sound unnatural, too. Don’t some language schools prefer you to teach American English/British English?

Yes. Whilst there are many variants of English, the two main types are British and American English. Some English language schools have strong preferences for one particular type; so before deciding on a particular language school, check if it has any preferences. However, many language schools adopt a flexible approach to teaching English, and are happy for you to supplement their materials. Should I avoid teaching words that I don’t use in my type of English?

No, of course not! Whatever type of English you speak, it is interesting and desirable for your students to know that ‘garbage’ and ‘rubbish’ is the same stuff! That American people walk down a sidewalk, whilst British people walk down a pavement! Don’t forget to include lessons that discuss the differences in pronunciation, especially at immediate level, as it can only improve your students’ understanding of English conversation. ‘Let’s call the whole thing off’ is a great song that demonstrates these differences. Don’t I need to teach the Queen’s English/proper English?

No, No, No! British teachers are guiltier of this than those of other nationalities; they have this strange, outdated idea that they should teach their students to speak ‘proper English’. This is not the English that they themselves speak, but they still think it’s desirable. It’s as if they consider their spoken English not quite up to scratch!

Joking aside, how often is it that you hear the Queen’s English? Chances are it’s once a year, when you turn on the TV or radio to listen to the Queen’s speech. Teach your students the Queen’s English and they won’t be able to understand the average English conversation; so unless your students are going to be mingling in older aristocratic circles, it really isn’t necessary for them to talk like this! Teach Natural

Think natural! A common mistake that English teachers make is to teach spoken English in a formal fashion. They teach students to say ‘What is your name?’ ignoring the more natural, ‘What’s your name?’ It is the misplaced belief of some English teachers that foreign students should learn spoken English as it is written in a Jane Austen novel.

Remember written English and spoken English are very different animals. Whilst both forms of English are desirable, it is preferable that students speak a more natural form of English as opposed the high-class, literary kind!

About the Author

“Chris Soames represents the I to I Gap Year Travel, which provides fulfilling and life-changing travel experiences to anyone with a desire to get out there and make a difference for the better.programs.

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