Apart from countries where English is taught as a second language only to immigrants and indigenous peoples (e.g. Australia), where is American English not chosen as the dialect taught when teaching English as a second language?

I have a suspicion that in former British colonies like India, British English would be taught instead.

  • 1
    I don't know if I'd call it a "second language", it's complicated, but Indians learn Indian English. I guess the biggest area of agreement between BrE and InE is spelling. Apart from that, InE is a distinctive dialect because of its accent, its idioms, and its grammar.
    – prash
    Feb 14 '16 at 12:38
  • The Indians that I know who live here (well, it is Cambridge) all speak impeccable RP-English. They would not be caught dead speaking Indian English.
    – fdb
    Feb 18 '16 at 23:53
  • Definitely in Russia they teach (still do) British standard (RP). American standard may be probably heard in some privately owned language courses, etc. But officially it's still RP.
    – alexsms
    Dec 19 '18 at 11:23

There is generally no single policy across different countries as to what English is taught across the board. Countries in Europe and Asia default to British English - the most popular textbooks (Headway, Matters, etc.) are based on British English. I imagine this may be different in Latin American countries - but I have no data on this.

A very common scenario around the world is American teachers teaching using British English materials. Students are also exposed to more American English through global media. Many teachers are only tangentially aware of the range of differences between the two Englishes leading to frequent confusion.


I was taught BrE at school in the Czech Republic. I wouldn't be surprised if it was more common in Europe, simply because of geographical closeness and history.


I do not know what kind of English we were taught in Russia. It had American-style vowels, but no rotacism. I also think the spelling was British-like, but this could depend on a textbook (official and Soviet-style textbooks would use British rules definitely).

So people who went to British-speaking countries said "we were fooled in schools, they pronounce the vowels more like they are spelt than we were taught".

  • "we were fooled in schools, they pronounce the vowels more like they are spelt than we were taught" That happened to me after being taught Received pronunciation and then hearing common people's dialects (I now live in Britain).
    – Vladimir F
    Feb 14 '16 at 13:21
  • American-style vowels? What did you mean?
    – Alex B.
    Feb 14 '16 at 15:49
  • @Alex B. American "a" in closed syllable falls to Russian "э", British "a" falls to Russian "a". American "u" (in closed syllable) falls to Russian "a", British "u" in closed syllable falls to Russian "у". We were told to pronounce the vowels America-style. And, by the way, no one yet explained to me what's the difference between how American "a" and "e" are pronounced (such as in "then" vs "than"), for me they are indistinguishable.
    – Anixx
    Feb 14 '16 at 15:57
  • @Anixx "then" and "than" are a special case; many native Americans also don't distinguish them (tending toward "e"). The distinction may also be lost to some degree in a few other words such as "catch" (for me, also in "am" and "shall"). But in most words, there is a definite distinction, as in "man" vs. "men" or "batch" vs. "sketch." Feb 15 '16 at 0:34
  • 1
    @Anixx Are you trolling or what? The existence of phonemes is proved by the existence of minimal pairs. Do a simple experiment: play recordings of the American pronunciation of "man" and "men" several times in random order and ask native speakers of American English to identify each word. I guarantee that they will do it correctly without any problem, despite the lack of access to spelling and context.
    – michau
    Oct 20 '16 at 17:52

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