Having spent six months living in Latin America myself, I can say that this sponsored post by Londoner Tracey Chandler rings true. Tracey has been living in Buenos Aires for a while now and is here to give us some insight on what it’s like to be a Londoner abroad. In this post, she tells us about the reputation of her mother tongue in her adopted country. As an American with a Spanish speaking boyfriend who learned English in the UK and uses BBC as guide for pronunciation, I often get teased for my American English accent and general “Americanisms”. It’s nice to hear Tracey is admired for her British one!
Words by Tracey Chandler
As an expat Brit living in Latin America I have always been surprised at how highly thought of British English, as opposed to American English, is here. I had only just arrived when a new acquaintance grasped my hand firmly and declared warmly: “Me gustan los ingleses porque hablan muy lindo.” (“I love the English because they speak so nicely.”)
At the time I thought this an odd statement but I now understand that he meant we speak ‘proper’ English. Here are seven reasons why Latin Americans want to learn British English.
1. Authenticity and authority
In Latin America, British English is seen as the “authentic” English. It is as though the language began losing something the moment the Mayflower touched land in the Americas. Britain, home to Oxford and the world-famous guardians of the language at the Oxford English Dictionary, is seen as the original source of English.
Oxford by Marc Willmore
2. Social status
Linked to this is the view that British English confers a higher social standing on the speaker. This is a view that researchers have found extends to the States itself. Americans, when asked to rate the social status of people with standard American or standard British accents, have a strong tendency to assign speakers of British English a higher social status.
3. English schools
There is a belief in Latin America that English language schools in Britain are the best in the world. This is related to the points above, but it is certainly true that quality language schools such as UIC – the only language school in the world to win the Star Award and the British Council ELTon, as this page explains – have done much to cement this reputation.
4. The Latin American presence in London
In recent years there has been a growing Latin American presence in Britain. London, in particular, has seen a four-fold rise in its Latin American population over the last 10 years. This presence is a reflection of push factors from countries such as Brazil, but also of pull factors such as the high esteem that Britain is held in and the perceived opportunities that exist there even in an economic downturn.
St. Paul’s Cathedral by xlibber
5. Studying English in London
An aspiration I have encountered many times is to study English in London. To learn English near the iconic images that define England’s capital – such as the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral – is a dream held by many. It is as if the history and authority of these buildings will add the same qualities to the speaker’s English.
6. Being in London specifically
For many, to study in London is to laze in Regent’s Park by day and party at night. The lure of British English is, in part, the lure of Europe. It is somewhere different where life must be better. It is not Central or South America nor the other America across the border, but somewhere new and fresh. Life must be better and the language must be better. Learning British English is like a passport to a better life.
Tracey writes her way around the globe, focusing on travel, culture and love. She has developed a penchant for Whitesnake and Joss Stone on a daily basis, doesn’t have the guts to jump out of a plane and cannot live without internet connection.
And a video for your amusement…