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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?

turkeyboots Fri 21-Jun-13 12:09:54

Chips are crisps.
Fries are chips.

Thoes are the ones which really confused my little brother when we moved to a similar school

Salbertina Fri 21-Jun-13 11:47:42

Hah! sosoeties (Sp?), chappies, meelie, naartjie, kokkie (sp?) as well as pants etc. As for dates, WHY do they use both US and UK system?? So confusing!

ICantRememberWhatSheSaid Fri 21-Jun-13 11:19:53

If it is the American School in Joberg then he definitely won't have a problem with Americanisms but he mights have a problem with South Africanisms. confused

Eg. Takkies, Trekkies, bokkies, bakkies.

I hadn't a clue smile.

InvaderZim Fri 21-Jun-13 09:19:57

The one that always gets me is a vest is a tank top and a tank top is a vest!

I think that since you are at an international school the teachers at least will understand different "correct" forms of English!

butterfliesinmytummy Fri 21-Jun-13 09:09:10

I wouldn't worry - the 40% of non American kids will speak probably British English.

We're moving to US this summer and it never occurred to me to teach the dcs American phrases. We got through 3 weeks there at Easter sounding very British grin Dds best friend is American actually and the fact that they speak differently has never come up....

mignonette Fri 21-Jun-13 09:07:42

Don't forget the very hilarious Fannypack!

Salbertina Fri 21-Jun-13 09:00:33

Not a big deal. Don't worry, they pick up so easily! No need to teach

differentnameforthis Fri 21-Jun-13 06:30:16

He will pick it up, don't worry! My daughter did when she started school here, she uses lot Australia words/phrases & I didn't teach her any of them!

wentshopping Fri 21-Jun-13 02:08:27

The word for bottom that your 5yo might hear is tush or heiny as opposed to fanny... as in "sit down on your tushy" - such bizarre words to use instead of bum.
And here they encourage the children to sit cross-legged in Kindergarten by saying "sit criss-cross apple sauce"(cross and sauce rhyme).

FringeEvent Thu 20-Jun-13 23:15:26

Try to have a look through some of the articles on as there's loads of helpful info here about words/phrases that are different between the UK and US - in fact one of the most recent posts is "How Brits Can Avoid Verbal Confusion in America".

Also there are a couple of Wikipedia articles worth looking at:
List of American words not widely used in the United Kingdom
List of British words not widely used in the United States

I know a lot of it won't be relevant to your 5yo at the moment, but still, hope this helps!

DH and I are hopefully moving to the US in a few months, so I'm also building up a spreadsheet of new words I need to try and remember when I get there!

fishoutofchlorinatedwater Thu 20-Jun-13 19:46:44

Brilliant, thank you. I've tried telling DS some of the 'different' words already, he is fairly amused (esp by "pants"), so hopefully they'll become less hilarious over the next 2 months, before he starts at the American school (which is actually in Africa, BTW - just to confuse things).

Bugger is very relevant to me, unfortunately (and, embarrassingly, has occasionally been repeated by the DCs blush). Thanks Pointless. Mouth now cleaned out with soap!

PointlessPost Wed 19-Jun-13 12:06:42

One for the adults.

Americans and Canadians really don't like the word bugger.

I noticed that eventually

ZZZenagain Wed 19-Jun-13 10:57:48

This is not relevant for your son but a long time ago I didn't realise that purse is handbag to Americans. I was baffled when a hostess said to me, "let me take your purse". I thought, "whatever for?!"

steppemum Wed 19-Jun-13 10:54:42

just saw soapnuts - was about to post rubber and eraser is most important one - the rest he will pick up

Oh and possibly pants and trousers (so he doesn't get a shock if told to take pants off for sports!!

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!

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"

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.

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!

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!)

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...

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.

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

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

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.

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

It's mainly the vowels which differ between BrE and AmE.

ProbablyJustGas Mon 17-Jun-13 11:31:11

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.

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