English around the world

Speaking fluent English, what parent doesn't want this for his or her child? English is the undisputed world language: in international schools for expat families, in science and higher education, at consulates, for international networking. With English you can go anywhere in the world.

Not just in England

English is spoken in many places, in many shades. People often know the difference between "American English" and "British English" - also referred to as the Cambridge variety. But there are other major currents within the world's English-speaking population. Consider the inhabitants of Australia or Canada - they speak English with their own tongues and their own specific expressions. In addition, there are smaller nations where English is spoken as a "first language": well-known examples are Ireland, Malta and Jamaica.

English as a second language

There are also many areas where English has official status, even though it is not the native language of most inhabitants. This is the case in South Africa, the Philippines and in Rwanda, among others. Often this is related to the former colonial status of the country in question. Also in India, after Hindi, English is the second most widely spoken language - especially among the elite. Indian students often fan out around the world with a very good command of English.

Eye-catching differences

Anyone who looks at the use of English around the world cannot ignore the differences. Specific words, spelling and pronunciation often give away unerringly whether someone comes from America or England. Interestingly enough, Dutch children often know mainly the American sayings, because they also hear them the most on television and social media.

An idiom of its own

An important difference in English language use is evident in words that are used in the United Kingdom but sound strange in the United States because the Americans use a synonym. A familiar example is 'elevator' versus 'elevator' or 'chips' versus '(French) fries'. Australian does not really add its own words to the language, but it does add abbreviations: 'arvo' for 'afternoon' and 'bikie' for a motorcyclist, for example.

Other differences

Even when the same word is used there are striking differences: namely in pronunciation and in spelling. A native speaker can unerringly hear whether someone is from America, and we are all familiar with the snappy tone in which Australians speak English. For spelling there are a number of mnemonics and rules. Your favorite color is your 'favorite color' in the UK and in the US it suddenly becomes 'favorite color'. The most important thing for someone learning the language is to know that these differences exist, so you can deal with them consciously.

Starting early

The best stage for learning a language is in childhood. It is a shame if, when it comes to English, children draw their own conclusions based only on the mainstream offerings in the media, combined with a smattering of school English. Moreover, little attention is paid to these differences within the language at school. Therefore, it may be important to look for other places where a child can learn English. During a summer camp, for example, young people actively come into contact with the language and learn in a playful manner how important and versatile the English language is in the world.

Keep it flowing

When the children's language level has been boosted, there is really nothing more fun than letting them put this into practice. This can of course be done during a trip to a country where English is the official language. For example, let your child do the talking in a store or a restaurant. But there are also other ways to stay actively involved with the language. It can be very stimulating to meet up with the other participants of the camp week or with classmates and catch up on all the adventures in English.