I read a really interesting article on the BBC Magazine website about people becoming more and more irritated by Americanisms in British English. They listed the 50 most popular complaints and it made for some quite interesting reading.
I have a lot of Korean and South American students, who are all exposed to American English when they are learning, and they find it quite funny that the English aren’t too impressed by American vocabulary or spelling. I thought that doing a lesson looking at this in more detail would appeal to them and is also quite culturally appropriate.
I started the lesson with some extracts from different time period which showed the evolution of the English language. The texts ranged from Beowulf to a poem written in text speak. The students have to order the poems according to time which they should be able to recognise from the language.
We then looked at a reading from the BBC Magazine which was written by an American in reply to a British person’s disgust at Americanisms. We focused on some vocabulary and then a speaking exercise about the evolution of language and the link between culture and language.
I found a great video online with an American TV presenter and Britsh actor Hugh Laurie talking about American and British slang. I got the students to imagine what the slang could be, then we watched the video which had them in giggles at the word “Ba-donka-donk”!
Then we focused on some more specific English-American vocabulary and a cross word seeing as it was a Friday afternoon!
If you’d like to see the materials I used for this lesson, you can download them here: