You don\u2019t speak American? Five years ago if any US citizen dared to ask this question they would have probably been laughed out of the staffroom. But these days, American English is all-pervasive.\r\n\r\nAs an Australian teacher working with English-as-a-Second-Language students in Shanghai, I see the dominance of American English every day. Chinese kids shout out \u201cOh My Gawd!\u201d in class, when they don\u2019t know an answer, we work with American textbooks with Mum spelt 'MOM' and my classes have daily listening tasks that don\u2019t ever have a non-American voice actor.\r\nI have even started to tone down my own Aussie-ness in favor of some sort of international melting pot, replacing my 'jumper' for 'sweater', my 'g\u2019day' for 'whazzup'.\r\nWhy are we teaching American English over other forms?Image Credit: Ben Raynal, Creative Commons.\r\n\r\nAs China has only recently opened up to the world and is now beginning to spread its vast influence, it seems strange that one form of English could be so dominant. There are obvious answers for this in the economy and the way international policy is heading but I wanted to focus on the linguistic influence this has on the region and especially how it is affecting other native English speakers.\r\nWhy American?\r\nDr. Yu Lee, a Linguistics specialist and very experienced ESL teacher at the Sino-British College says American English is \u2018fairly big\u2019 in China, pointing to the three big ESL training companies: Wall Street, New World and English First, which are all foreign owned. EF is the only non-American (Swedish) and the new kid on the block, while Disney English is the standout for its purely-American stance, only employing American Native English speakers until recently.\r\n\r\nIt is no surprise America is influencing the world and China too, and not just in the classroom. Most Chinese kids I teach and meet enjoy watching American movies and TV shows and listening to American music. This is sadly dominated by Transformers, Hannah Montanna and Justin Beiber. However, the fact remains they are constantly being exposed to one form of English only. My students constantly ask me questions like, \u2018What does Baby, baby Ohhh mean?\u2019 and \u2018What does Holla at yo boy mean?\u201d Nobody ever asks me what \u2018G\u2019day\u2019 means, even though I say it every day.\r\n\r\nLaura Hansen-Just from Edinburgh in Scotland has lived in Shanghai for only a few months but is already noticing a change in the way she speaks. Now an employee of Web International English, which uses American English for its grammar, spelling and listening tasks, she admits she has already stopped using Scottish phrases like \u2018wee\u2019 meaning \u2018a little\u2019 and has started saying \u2018Awesome!\u2019\r\nIs English Really A Global Language?\r\nApproximately two thirds of world\u2019s native English speakers live in the US and many of them decide to travel and teach English. There is also a growing push in the international community to provide the world with a neutral, standard form of English. The term Globish meaning English as a global language was coined by Robert McCrumm. He may have a great theory but I haven\u2019t seen much evidence of this in language centers around Shanghai. Combine that with the growing trend to discuss hit TV programs and films like High School Musical and English doesn\u2019t seem so International anymore. McCrumm\u2019s theory may be more suited to places like Europe where multiple forms of English are more widely heard, taught and accepted. I don\u2019t think it applies here as the big companies and schools are US owned.\r\nCorrect English\r\nDr Lee agrees with McCrumm that English is an international language but says there is no correct form of speaking English.\r\n\r\nHe says:\r\nThere are of course students and parents who will complain about not understanding so and so teacher, or wanting to learn the \u2018correct\u2019 form of English, but what these people are doing is really confining themselves and limiting their own possibilities.\u201d\r\nHe also adds: \u201cThe result of this mindset is an individual who is less competitive in a quickly changing world.\u201d\u00a0Dr Lee highlighted the need for a variety of forms of English, so maybe there still is room for an Australian ESL teacher in Shanghai.\r\nJust Get Over It\r\nSo for us expats who are picking up American English for whatever reason, will we ever regain our true and original accents and pronunciations? Dr Lee suggests that living in a foreign country can have a negative impact on one\u2019s native tongue, but only for a short time. He\u00a0 mentioned, \u2018a native tongue is internalized and that it is very hard, short of a head injury, to actually lose your language abilities\u2019 So I guess the ultimate remedy is a trip back home!