Which kind of English should you learn, British English or American English? Today I want to help answer your question – and I’m going to tell you, the answer is American English! Here’s why.
So Gabby, Are You American or British?
Let me start by telling you, yes, I am American, so I may be slightly biased towards American English. However, I’m going to tell you why you should learn American English over other kinds of English.
Now, Americans love British English. We love the sound of that accent! It sounds really cool and exotic, it sounds educated and different to us. Still, you should learn American English because it’s more practical and will serve you better over time. You can learn both, but that might be really confusing. I highly recommend that you choose one – either British English or American English – and stick to it, at least until you’re really confident in your English speaking and fluency.
Are American English and British English Different?
There are a lot of differences in the accents, of course. Grammar is a little different, and definitely slang and vocabulary will also be different. Let’s not forget spelling! However, generally American English and British English speakers can understand each other unless someone is using a really strong accent, and maybe a lot of slang.
Even an educated American English speaker might not be familiar with British English slang and the opposite is true, too. There are a lot of British words I wasn’t familiar with until recently, and probably many more that I don’t know and wouldn’t understand if they were used in conversation.
Three Reasons You Should Learn American English
Now, there are three main reasons why I think you should learn American English, and it’s not just because I’m American! American English is the prevailing language of entertainment and business, and we simply have more people in the world who speak American English.
First of all, the accent you will hear in most of the movies you watch, in the TV series that you love, and in your favorite songs, is an American accent. We simply have much more entertainment media that comes out of places like Hollywood, in the United States. If you consume more American entertainment, you should be familiar with the American accent. This will help you understand your favorite movie or TV show without needing to read the subtitles. Learning American English will help you enjoy your favorite entertainment.
Second, American English has been the language of international business. This is because there are so many more American International or multinational businesses.
For example, when I worked in Japan teaching English, I helped Japanese students learn English so they could communicate with their American and international counterparts at the American pharmaceutical company where we were working. Also, during my experience in Brazil, people who worked in American multinational companies had to learn English in order to communicate with their North American coworkers, or their international coworkers in South America. So, for international business, I think American English is the best choice.
Number of Speakers Worldwide
Third, and maybe the strongest reason of all, is that American English has more speakers! Around 250 million people speak with an American English accent, while around 60 million people speak with a British English accent. If you want to go with the numbers alone, you would be much better off learning American English.
Which One Should I Learn?
Now, does this depend on where you live or what your native language is? Not necessarily! Your native language is not going to make it easier to learn British English or American English. Where you live may or may not come into play. For example, if you live in France, you may want to learn British English because you’re closer to England. However, if you need to interact with Americans for business, or if you want to travel in the Americas, then you may want to learn American English.
On the other hand, maybe you are from Mexico and you think you should learn American English because the United States is closer to you geographically. Think about your plans. Are you going to live, travel, or work in Europe, or do you plan to stay in the Americas?
Your Decision Depends on Your Lifestyle
See, your decision is personal. I recommend considering what you want to do with your life. What are your hopes and dreams and plans, and which English would better suit your life?
If you’re already in school, and your school is already teaching you British English or American English, then take advantage of what you already have. You may want to work with what you are already learning. This is really in the end a personal decision. Which one do you think will help you more?
I would love to know in the comments! Tell me which one is better suited for you and your life. Which one is going to be easier for you to learn, American English or British English?
Does It Matter Which One I Learn?
Maybe you are wondering if it matters what kind of English you learn? If American and British speakers can understand each other, is it an important decision?
It really does matter, especially if you’re taking a test or you’re planning on attending a university in England or in the United States or Canada. If you’re moving to Canada to study for your master’s degree or MBA, you should definitely learn American English, because that is the language you will be learning in. You don’t want to spell words the wrong way or use the wrong grammar or vocabulary, because that could affect your test scores, your essay scores, or even your reputation.
Are you still wondering which English I speak, or which English I teach? Well, I’m from the United States, so I teach American English, Standard American English, which is a neutral accent that you’ll hear most news reporters use.
In the end I’m here to help you learn English! Whether you want to learn American English or British English, it’s up to you. Learning English is all about using this global language as a tool to improve your life, to improve your community, and to leave the world a better place where we can communicate with each other more effectively.
Want to learn a little more about some different American English accents you will find in the United States? Here’s a fun post that talks about four of the most common American accents. Want some help with your pronunciation? You can perfect your American English accent with the Go Natural English Pronunciation Course. Just click here for more information!