I used the following discussion topics and handouts (please see link and information below) as intros for American vs. British English language themed classes. The level was advanced to intermediate. I prepared these documents (articles, explanations and summaries) (see link – British English vs. American English(1))
Sources were from The Guardian, Oxford English Dictionary and BBC.co.uk.
Answer the following questions. Write your answers, maximum three lines.
One of your classmates will read your answers so you can remain anonymous if you wish.
- In your opinion, how important is the English language?
- Why did you decide to study English?
- Have you ever thought about whether you use American or British English?
- Do you think this is important?
- Have you ever misunderstood an English expression or word because it was American or British English or any other type of English (for example Irish English)? Can you list any typical British and/or American English expressions or words?
Once completed, one of your classmates will read out your answer and will state whether they agree or disagree with you, whether they had any similar responses, whether your answer is making them think of other examples; their general response.
Discussion 2 pg. 2-3
After reading the article, respond to the following questions in groups. Reflect on what you have read and use examples from the article to support your response.
When writing your response, write in a formal style but one which can be used to discuss (to speak).
- Taking into consideration what you have read and the many examples given about different British and American English expressions, do you think it is a lot more difficult that it seems to learn English? Give examples.
- Do you agree that literature, television programmes and media sources can contribute to a language? Equally, can this vocabulary be sustained in a language? Reflect on the article and your opinion.
- The final line, pg.3: “In the UK, the use of Americanisms is seen as a sign that culture is going to hell.” Do you agree, based on your reading of the article and your own experience as an English student?
Respond to (a) or (b)
- “Learning a language is difficult anyway, we should not have to worry about certain variations in vocabulary, accents and expressions depending on where it is spoken”.
Respond to this statement from the point of view of a student learning a foreign language and/or English.
- “There’s a lot more to the English language than British or American English and confusion and misunderstandings because of certain expressions and vocabulary”.
Agree and/or disagree with and respond to this statement and respond to this statement. Convince and persuade the reader to take your side.