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It’s so typical of our human nature to consider that what we are experiencing is not what really should be going on. Worse still we think that what others get in other places is much better. We call this simply ‘thinking that the grass is always greener somewhere else’. In some obvious circumstances this can be true in terms of what learning institution students end up going to, as there are certainly some places of quality and some that have no quality and some that well…could do better but fall somewhere in between. This post isn’t about this kind of experience, this post is about the actually language of English itself.
An example of this is a student who decides that the only way they can get the ‘right’ English is to go to England and study there. In some ways they are right in the sense that English is spoken pretty much anywhere there, but what they don’t understand is that the range of accents, dialects and pronunciations you can find in England itself is downright baffling. Even I myself have travelled around the UK and found some areas speaking completely indecipherable English.
The quest to find the best accent or the best area in the world to learn English can be endless, so the best place to start is where you are right now.
Fortunately, with English being available in abundance on the internet, you can pretty much pick and choose where you want to focus your attention. If you love the American accent there are plenty of sites to listen to that way of speaking. If you prefer the Australian or New Zealand and even South African, you can move in that direction, however the area you are right now is probably the most useful for the learner who plans to stay in their own country.
I say this because there are certainly plenty of styles of English that are present in different countries where English is not the first language, but it is very prevalent. Countries such as Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Pakistan, don’t necessarily have English in every part of their country, but it is still considered the language of the professional in those countries, but at the same time, there will be certain ‘peculiarities’ that will be distinctive for those regions.
The peculiarities are primarily ‘mutations’ that have developed often from a merging of the local language with the English language. These can come in various ways:
- Certain key words from their local language have no English equivalent, so are used embedded within the English they use daily
- Some slangs from the local language are used interchangeably
- Certain accents are prevalent from certain regions, even though the English is perfect grammatically, the accent will be distinctively from that area.
- Some grammatical ‘errors’ become the norm, as that form of grammar is understandable in their own language, so the transfer to English makes sense to the local listener too.
- Some chunks of local language are thrown into the English sentence to bring familiarity to the listener if the speaker thinks they are not being understood
All this should not in this day and age be considered ‘bad’ English. The only English that should be considered bad is when the speaker is not in their own environment and knows that the listener would not understand if they used their local English but uses it anyway because they don’t know any different.
The other point is that for any formal English usage in written form, the correct English should be used at all times. If the writing is informal, then again it is up to the user to decide what the reader will be familiar with.
So, coming back to the original point – this is it – this is the only reality of English – because you have to know as a student that this is it – it doesn’t matter what country you are in, what school you can afford, what teacher you have right now – the English you are experiencing now is the real English you have, so make the most of it.