Standard American English? Whose standard?


When teaching English pronunciation, every teacher runs up immediately against the same question: whose pronunciation should we teach?

In Japan, the trend for the last number of years has been to try to teach “standard American English”, whatever that means. It wasn’t always that way. It used to be that Japanese English schools preferred British pronunciation, ages past, but trading partners and military alliances will tend to change priorities. Nowadays, there’s much more of a conscious effort toward exposing students to a variety of Englishes, including non-native pronunciations. Still, students want to learn to pronounce the language, and so as a teacher, you have to pick one particular dialect and stick with it.

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