Help me teach DS to speak 'American'!

(39 Posts)
fishoutofchlorinatedwater Sun 16-Jun-13 14:20:45

Just that really. We are moving abroad, and 5 year old DS will be going to an American International school (class will be about 60% American, with an American teacher and a mix of other nationalities, but he will almost certainly be the only British child - they have I think 5 British students in the schools which has a role of about 400).

I don't want the poor little thing to be even more confused than he will probably already be, having moved continents the week before, when he starts school, so am trying to introduce a few American words to help him to find his feet. I have sneakers, faucet, sidewalk, eraser (!!), pants (also likely to be a source of hilarity), restroom.... what am I missing?

clam Sun 16-Jun-13 14:27:19

Stick on the TV. My kids seem to watch nothing but American programmes here in the UK.

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 14:29:25

I wouldn't worry - he's more likely to be teaching you after a month or so! Children are like sponges with things like this and at 5 he'll have no trouble. You'll be wishing he still sounded British this time next year!

juneblues Sun 16-Jun-13 14:35:29

He's only 5 years old, it really won't be hard to learn a few words, he won't really get a choice in it, I don't think you should do any specific preparation other than make light of the differences like ones you hear on TV.

I work at an international school where the English children are mainly UK/Irish or American/Canadian. Our lunch conversations with the little ones are often funny like asking everyone at the table to say "tomato" and "pants" sends the Brits and Irish into fits of laughter, oh "bathroom" too. We do the same thing in the French lesson, the teacher is from Canada.

Maybe for your own knowledge, I'm sure there must be several books on the market about the differences in words and expressions - the most recent one I learned was "on the economy"

wentshopping Sun 16-Jun-13 14:38:37

Cleaning up vs tidying up - I would say tidy up your toys, but here they say clean up - so he does not need to worry about "cleaning" after a playdate or in the classroom. Put "trash" in the "trashcan" not "rubbish" in the "bin" (The toys you "clean up" will probably be stored in a "bin"). At 5 years old, many parents and kids will call the "restroom" the "potty" and suggest he might like a "potty break".
If he needs immunizations they are referred to as "shots" which may seem alarming to him.
We arrived here when dds were 6, 4 and under 1; they have a gentle American accent with all the correct words to use with their friends, and they revert to British English words/accent at home smile

juneblues Sun 16-Jun-13 14:39:57

You could always get your 5 year old to be a bit of a smarty by explaining that several Americanisms actually come from the UK (even though they no longer exist there) such as "fall" , "faucet" and "diaper"

aliciaflorrick Sun 16-Jun-13 14:50:05

My children are English but live in France and I've noticed they speak American. So all you need to do is just stick Nickelodeon on the tellybox and he'll soon be fluent.

EliotNess Sun 16-Jun-13 14:55:55

what a stupid idea

Alwayscheerful Sun 16-Jun-13 15:04:01

pants = trousers
garbage = rubbish

fishoutofchlorinatedwater Sun 16-Jun-13 17:35:36

Thanks for the helpful responses. I'm not hugely worried about this, it's just a bit of fun - I'm sure he'll pick it up sooner or later, but he's a fairly shy and sensitive boy and so I thought that it might help him, on the first day of a new school, on a new continent, where everything is completely different (we're not moving to the US, but to a country where English is barely spoken even as an additional language), if he at least understood what his teacher and the other children meant by certain phrases. E.g. if shown where the "restroom" was. Not sure why you think this is stupid, Eliot, but thank you to everyone else!

feelthis Sun 16-Jun-13 17:38:12

Arthur (on CBBC at 7am every day) is fab. It is a PBS programme and very moral and totally fine for a 5 year old to watch and they talk American! My sons love it and have been using out all the American words they have learned on some US friend who were visiting recently.

kickassangel Sun 16-Jun-13 17:39:58

Get the pants and trousers thing sorted!we had an incident where dd showed the whole of dh's office her underwear.

Also ,the phonetic alphabet is different.speak to the class teacher and make them aware that he will probably need time to adjust to a new alphabet (bitter memories of a teacher who didn't get that dd had different sounds)

fishoutofchlorinatedwater Sun 16-Jun-13 22:45:10

Thanks all, have set the planner to record Arthur. He hasn't been to school at all yet, so hopefully the phonics thing won't be a biggie - he knows his letter sounds but has never done a reading programme, so I'm hoping that he'll take this in his stride, and that by the time we come back to the UK he'll be able to read and past the stage of phonics. Fingers crossed! But I'll certainly mention it to his teacher, thanks for the advice.

kickassangel Mon 17-Jun-13 06:16:55

It's the letter sounds that are different. L, m, n, r and some others are very different. So if a teacher says the sound to him, he probably won't recognize it. He'll learn, but I had several months of reports saying dd didn't know the alphabet although she had known it since she was 3. She just didn't know the American sounds. Just be prepared to go in there if necessary, or tell ds he's smarter than the teacher cos he can speak English and American.

If your son is sensitive, it might also be worth warning him that the American students and teachers might speak at a louder volume than he is used to. This is something I warned my DSD about, because she is also shy and sensitive, and very soft-spoken. I just told her my relatives might sound like they're shouting at her, but they're not. She seemed to understand (maybe conditioned by living with me grin ) and I think that helped her feel a little less stunned when she met them.

juneblues Mon 17-Jun-13 17:46:19

It's mainly the vowels which differ between BrE and AmE.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_pronunciation_differences

PointlessPost Tue 18-Jun-13 00:41:47

In which country is the American School?

sweater not jumper

Band-aid not plaster

The pavement is the ROAD not the 'sidewalk'.

Jello not jelly

Jelly not jam

Flash light not tourch

Elevator not lift

Drapes not curtains

Soda not fizzy drinks/cola etc

Stove not oven/cooker

I can't think of any others. We lived in a few countries and there was always the odd time where we got very confused. South Africa was surprisingly confusing. confused kokkies = pens, takkies = trainers. ???

I am sure nooe at the school will bat an eyelid at his use of English words.

It might be fun to try some American rhymes and games such as Duck, Duck, Goose.

I never quite got all the American birds and animals sad.

We lived in the US and Canada and my DCs still have slight American accents. They say bal, not bawl for BALL and wardur not warter for WATER.

SkiBumMum Tue 18-Jun-13 01:01:35

Fanny = bottom doesn't it in the US
Line = queue

PointlessPost Tue 18-Jun-13 08:45:20

Oops made a mistake in my post not that it is relevant but it is trakkies for trainers in SA.

tungthai Tue 18-Jun-13 10:46:50

My 8 year old has never set foot in America and yet he speaks the lingo well.

Garbage, sneakers, jerk and candy are all part of his vocabulary. Cartoon Network is to blame...

unobtanium Wed 19-Jun-13 10:10:48

It'll all come very naturally and quickly.

Maybe practice saying "wardurrrr" so he doesn't go thirsty on his first day.
(Honestly, though the above suggestions are spot on, there is very little else you need to do to prepare.)

Just watch out for over-keen classroom assistants/teachers hauling him off to remedial phonics lessons because they can't figure out why he's not pronouncing the "r" in "church". This happened to my ds a long time ago (but honestly, we had a quick laugh and nobody was particularly traumatised by it!)

moggle Wed 19-Jun-13 10:21:07

Definitely important to teach him "eraser". My first day in my American school, age 10, I asked if anyone had a rubber I could borrow... cue raised eyebrows and giggles amongst about half the class and a very shocked teacher! Pants/trousers along the same lines for embarrassment.

Torch was another, said I'd be bringing a torch on a girl scout camping trip and the leader told me that probably wouldn't be safe (she's thinking a proper petrol / flaming thing...).

I also remember aged 12 and returning to the UK, my dad told us we should probably stop saying the American "booger" instead of UK "bogie" in general conversation as it sounded like bugger...

The only other thing I remember probably isn't relevant to a kid so young but I do remember saying "oh hell" or "flipping hell" or something and my classmates being very shocked over that word!

ZZZenagain Wed 19-Jun-13 10:31:24

I think you have covered the main pitfalls. At least I cannot think of any others. Torch is one that wouldn't have occured to me.

Startail Wed 19-Jun-13 10:37:32

I have the opposite problem, DD2 (12) watches so many american utube videos that she often starts using an American accent.

Yes, Pavement is the actual road. My Canadian friend has lived here for 16 years, but she says it still feels totally wrong to tell a child to "Stay on the pavement"

soapnuts Wed 19-Jun-13 10:38:57

just make sure he calls an eraser an eraser and not a rubber.... that took a long time to live down when i went to an american school.... but tbh i reckon he'll pick it up in about 5 mins!

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