Should I learn American or British English?

Dear Teachers,

I have some questions, that maybe you could help me answer. I started to learn English a few years aga and after tat i renounced because my teacher at school made me to hate her and because of that I stopped learning. Almost 2 years ago i realized that it is a very good possibility to be in touch with others if i know English language and I started again to learn. I started to go to a church where the mass was hold in English once in 2 weeks. Then I met an American missionary and because i wanted to understand him and to be able to speak with him I learned more and more.

2 months ago I needed to leave from the town where I was taking my English classes and here, where I’m living now, i have no possibility to be in touch with native speakers any more.

Than i started to search on the Internet and I’ve found your site. I’m glad that i can post my ideas here but most important is that I can get some answers as well.

And now, here are my questions:

Do you think that is better to learn British English or American English?
As you could find out from my messages, i studied with American teachers and i wanted to prepare myself for the Cambridge language exam.

And now here i am. Your site is about British English. And it is quite a big difference into these 2 kind of English in accent.

And you and your site speak about the TOEFL language exam.
What you think? Which of these 2 language exams is the best or it is any difference between the Cambridge and TOEFL language exams?
I would like how to prepare myself from now?
Are both of this two exams internationally recognized?
Please help me to find the answers to these questions.

Thanks a lot!


Hi Torsten

Thanks for your reply. I have taken note of the corrections you made.

Hi Julia

I can understand why and how you got that impression – even though the founders of the site may not be willing to believe that. However, you will find some American English on this site too.

I agree with you completely that there are differences, but the differences are not so large that British people and Americans cannot understand each other. The similarities are far more numerous than the differences.

The TOEFL is frequently required if you want to study at a university in the US, for example.

If you read the official information given to people taking the Cambridge English exam, you’ll find that it doesn’t matter which variety of English you speak – British, American, Canadian, Australian, etc. All of them are honored for the Cambridge exams.

One difference between the Cambridge exams and the TOEFL is that the TOEFL expires after a couple of years, but the Cambridge exams don’t. So an employer or a university knows that if you present a valid TOEFL score, you demonstrated those English skills just a short time ago. If you have a Cambridge certificate, it’s conceivable that you could have passed the exam so long ago that you barely remember English anymore.

Since your accent will probably never be British or American, but the accent of your own country, it doesn’t really matter how much of which variety you learn. If I were you, I would concentrate more on good, solid international English. If your language is too British, you may often not be understood by most native English speakers. Remember that the UK is only a small part of the English-speaking world, and if you learn too much local British language, it would be something like learning the slang of just one of the 50 American states and expecting everyone in the world to understand it. Only a minority of native English speakers are British, and only 2% of the British speak the kind of English that is presented as “British English” in Romania or elsewhere around the world.

So don’t sweat over the difference between the two varieties, because they’re not that big. Just learn what you can from each book and teacher. Because of American movies, TV and other media, even the British don’t speak pure British English anymore, so it’s unreasonable to think that it’s possible for a foreigner to do so.

I totally agree with Jamie here. It really doesn’t make much sense to concentrate on a certain variety. If your English is good enough, you’ll be able to understand different accents in any case, and you will also be able to associate the meaning of expressions you have never heard before. And, as it was said before, there are quite a few differences, but hardly any that would lead to cross-Atlantic confusion.

The same applies to your pronunciation - you’ll develop a certain pronunciation style after a while. Even if some of my students say a few words in a slightly Irish way, I’m sure everybody will understand what they say :slight_smile:

Hy Jamie!

Is interesting that as I receive an answer I always can formulate other questions related the received answer.
So here are my new questions:
What you think of this.
Is better to have a language exam that expires after a few years or to have a language exam that is valid all your life?
I think if someone studies something with passion as I do with English can’t forget it so easily.
I have a language exam which is valid here in Romania for two years. It passed almost one year and half fron these two years and I never used the paper…
I think that now my knowledge is bigger than when I took the exam.
Than I took the exam because I needed it for finish the university but I wasn’t interested in English language.

How many years is valid the TOEFL language exam?

Related to the speaking manners I like the American English better maybe because I’m used to it.

I watch movies as well and I rarely meet British movies.


Hy Ralf!

You’ve sent me two links. One of them is: “How to become an English teacher?”
On the audio part is your own voice?
If yes, than I can say that I have to work a lot until I’ll be able to have a conversation with you.
I understood the text without problems when I saw it, but the registration of the introduction was a little bit fast for me. :slight_smile:


Hi Julia,

Did anybody send you an email with two links? If so, it’d be interesting to hear what the topic of the email was.

Anyway, I’m sure we could get a conversation going. In face-to-face situations it’s much easier to communicate. It’s easier when you play an active part in an exchange of ideas and you can make sure that you understood your interlocutor (conversational partner) correctly. Also, you can always ask someone to speak more slowly, and good conversationalists know when to speak more slowly anyhow :slight_smile:

Take care,


Hy Ralf!

I just realized that every time when you send a message at the end of the message appear the links related to you and your lessons. These are the links about I’ve spoken in my previous message.
Sorry for the misunderstanding.