Americans don’t realize that the English they know is not the same as what the rest of the world speaks. As more and more people around the world speak English, the pronunciation and even the meanings of words will change. The same thing happened in the 18 century, when Americans switched from British English to their own unique form of the language.

Language expert Margie Burns says, “Take a simple greeting. In some African English-speaking communities, a person will greet another by saying, ‘You have put on some weight.’ Most Americans would be offended by this greeting, but in Africa, it is a compliment that acknowledges how healthy and prosperous a person looks.”

According to Burns, “English is a hot topic right now because the United States is seeing a growing population that does not speak English, and other countries, such as China, are working very hard to make sure their children and adults can speak English. The number of English speakers, and more importantly those who are learning English as a second language, is increasing around the world, and this will affect English as we know it.”

We think that if the rest of the world speaks English, we won’t have to learn a second (or third) language, but that’s not really true. When we visit a foreign country, we need to understand WHAT KIND of English they are speaking.

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