Two Nations Divided by a Common Language
By Nouf Alkhaja
As the old saying above indicates, this is how many British people perceive Americans in terms of the English language varieties that can be found between them. Although many varieties of English exist, British English and American English are the two most commonly used and preferred styles. Other varieties of English follow these two styles. Australia and New Zealand adopt the British English system, Canada is said to adopt the American English system. The most notable differences between the British English and the American English include language conventions, dates, hyphens, words, titles, pronunciation, vocabulary and meaning, spelling, punctuations, prepositions, grammar and cultural values.
Both styles have their own reasons for why their way of writing should apply, so there is no right or wrong in which style to follow. The only rule of thumb is to be consistent in your writing throughout by using one style rather than switching from one to the other.
Test your knowledge by taking this quiz http://iteslj.org/v/e/ck-british-american.html to check if you are aware of the differences between British English and American English? How did you score? Do you usually tend to use different styles in your writing randomly or are you aware of and apply the differences consistently throughout your writing?
One thing to note is that there are some very good English language training courses out there that include an understanding of the different writing styles and conventions in their curriculum. This is true for English for specific purposes training courses like business, law, etc. When you select a course, make sure that this is included. If not, then ask for it! You will get the most value from your language training that will make you stand apart from others. Many training institutes offer the flexibility of providing content that is tailored to meet the specific needs of the delegates.