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Studying Abroad: USA vs. UK

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Joined: 22 Jul 2009
Posts: 1
Location: United States of America

PostPosted: Thu Jul 23, 2009 1:42 pm    Post subject: Studying Abroad: USA vs. UK Reply with quote

I'm an American ESL Professor who has had the good fortune to teach overseas in the EEUU and here in the US as well. While I specialize in Business English and Fluency programs, I have taught virtually every subject known to ESL and have also authored textbooks and created programs and curriculums for Universities. This background is only relevant because I firmly believe that when considering a person's opinion, you should always consider the source in order to determine the credibility and objectivity of the person who is offering said advice.

Nevertheless, I'd like to try and answer this question for anyone looking to study English in a native English-speaking country. First of all, you must acknowledge the significant differences between English in the UK, and English in the US, not only in terms of slang and idiom, but pronunciation, grammar and spelling.

Having lived in England for a spell, I can tell you that similar obstacles exist in both places. For example, there are many different dialects and accents that can be found in both places and therefore it is arbitrary to say that an American accent is easier to understand than a British one. It is crucial for all ESL educators to explain that in English it is important to learn "approximate" sounds of words rather than "definitive" ones. This is achieved by stressing the importance of syllable count which any good teacher should be able to do.

The decision to study in a specific area should depend on the reasons you want to study English, or in other words for what purpose are you studying? If it is for work and Business, then determine what area are you most likely to find work after you've finished your studies. If it's with a company that does a lot of work in the UK, then obviously it would be wise to consider a school somewhere close by. However, if it is with a company who works closely with Americans, then it might be more beneficial to study in the States.

If it is a question of distance from your home, for many Europeans, the UK is a desirable choice. For example, from Rome to London the flight time is a couple of hours whereas from Rome to New York would be 9+ and an extra 5 hours to California.

However if it is a question of money, then the States would be the best choice. Especially during this recession, the cost of certain programs can be great, and the difference between the UK and the US can be substantial. For example, a 12-week Cambridge FCE preparation program at SDUIS costs around $1,100.00 US whereas in some places in the UK, the program can cost up to 5,000 euros.

The question should never be in reference to which one is more useful. Americans and citizens of the UK have very few problems in understanding one another with the exceptions of certain stronger accents (i.e. a southern, or cajun accent from the U.S. vs. c0ckney slang).

Both places have much to offer in terms of culture and understanding the British and American perspective.

I hope this helps some of you make your choice, feel free to ask any questions. Best to all of you.
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