Which English Should I Teach in the EFL Classroom?
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When someone tells you they are learning English, you don’t usually question them and ask What English? But the truth is, there is more than one English. While by and large the different Englishes are the same, there are still numerous differences between them, in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary and even grammar. Do you know what they are? If you can speak English this is generally not a problem for you because it is likely you will understand the different varieties of English but it becomes interesting when we consider learners of English. What English should they be learning and, consequently you will ask, which English should I teach in the EFL classroom?
The different Englishes
British English and American English are the most widely spoken Englishes around the world. British English is spoken in the United Kingdom and the British Isles, while American English is spoken throughout the United States of America, as well as in parts of Latin and South America.
The main differences between British and American English is pronunciation and vocabulary. With accents, you just need to consider the accents in Friends versus Fawlty Towers to hear the differences. However, even within the two regions, accents can vary dramatically, so much so that a Londoner might have difficulty understanding a Scotsman, and a Texan and a New Yorker can sound totally different.
In terms of vocabulary, there are certain words that are used differently in the two dialects, such as biscuits in England which are known as cookies in America. There are also spelling differences, with British English making use of a –u in many words which American English doesn’t – for example, colour versus color, or humour versus humor. Also, American English uses the –ize ending, while British English prefers –ise – for example, specialize versus specialise, and recognize versus recognise.
Other notable Englishes which you have probably been exposed to, if you’re aware of it or not, are South African English, Australian English, New Zealand English, Canadian English, Indian English, Philippine English, Ugandan English, and Singapore English (or Singlish). These Englishes are largely influenced by the other native languages spoken in their respective countries.
In South Africa, for example, people will enjoy a braai at the weekend, while an English person has a barbecue. An American might refer to someone as cray cray while a Singaporean would say they are siao. And while you might postpone a meeting, in India it’s even possible to prepone a meeting – and schedule it for an earlier time!
As you can see, these Englishes not only have different accents but they even have different vocabulary (and grammar) as a result of the other languages they have historically been in contact with.
This leads us to this question:
What English should you be teaching in the classroom?
This depends on a number of factors:
- What English do you (the teacher) speak?
- Where are you teaching?
If we consider the teacher first, then we need to think about what their dialect of English is. Teachers should stick to the English they are proficient in. There is nothing more cringe than a teacher trying to fake an accent. Basically, this means that you must speak in your natural accent. As long as you speak clearly and comprehensibly, it doesn’t matter what accent you speak or indeed, which vocabulary you use.
However, it is important that your students understand that there are different Englishes and that they are, well, different. This brings us to the next point.
The English you teach in your EFL classroom largely depends on where you are teaching. Many Asian countries teach American English, while European countries teach British English. And of course, you will teach British English in the UK and American English in the US, no matter what nationality your students are. This will affect you because the resources you are given will be in those Englishes. For example, you might use the Cutting Edge coursebook, but there are both UK and US English versions.
At the same time, the particular reason your students might be learning English might mean they need a particular English. For example, if you are teaching English in South Korea, but your student wants to study at a British university, you need to familiarise them with British English as this is the English they will need to be able to understand.
Read more: The Lowdown on Teaching in South Korea
Again, this doesn’t mean you need to speak that English. What you need to do is to make sure you and your students are aware of the differences between the way you speak and the English they are being exposed to in their coursebooks, and possibly their environments outside the classroom.
When it comes to pronunciation and vocabulary, highlighting the differences and explaining that they are both correct is the way to tackle any differences you might have. Of course, if using your English will be confusing for your students, then you should adopt the English that you are teaching, but this shouldn’t happen too often.
For example, South African teaching in London will need to be mindful not to use the word robot when referring to a traffic light, as this could well cause your students to expect to see Robocop at the end of the street, but simply explaining that you generally greet someone by saying howzit? Instead of hello should be enough for your students to understand your greeting every lesson.
How to deal with different Englishes in the EFL classroom
As the teacher, it is your duty to take all of these factors into consideration when it comes to which variety of English your students are going to learn. Here are a few ways you can make sure your students are as prepared as possible to understand the English they are going to be exposed to.
Incorporate different accents into your lessons through listening to texts. Make sure your audio files include speakers which have different English accents so your students can get comfortable understanding the different English accents.
Make your students aware of the differences between Englishes. This is especially important if there is a difference between the English you speak and the English you are teaching. Remember, no variety of English is wrong; they are just different. Above all, remember that the goal of your students learning English is for them to understand the English they hear and for them to be understood. This does not mean they need to speak the Queen’s English and, in actual fact, an English learner is more likely to speak English to another English learner than a native speaker! Bear this in mind when teaching in the EFL classroom and debating with your students about whether aluminum or aluminium is the correct word!
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- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.