Perceptions of Pakistani Learners of English about Standard British and American English: An Exploratory Approach

  • Dr. Syed Shujaat Ali Assistant Professor, Department of English, Kohat University of Science & Technology, Kohat
  • Muhammad Ishtiaq Lecturer, Government College of Management Sciences, Kohat
  • Muhammad Shahid Lecturer, Department of English, University of Malakand
Keywords: Motivation, Standard variety, World Englishes, EFL, TEFL


Pakistani learners of English are exposed to the same degree to both the British and the American variety of English language. There is no state policy or direction regarding the preference of one variety over the other in being used for getting education. Overall society and educational institutes are free to adopt or promote any variety that they deem proper. Both the varieties are used extensively, are quite popular, and enjoy sufficient means and reasons to be effective in society. The lack of uniformity in adopting a particular variety leads to multiple problems, including an English variety having features of both American and British English in different degrees, depending on each user’s different degree of exposure to both the varieties. For ensuring uniformity and avoiding confusion, the researcher thought it compulsory to make a recommendation for the adoption of a single variety out of the two, based on its suitability and utility. However, the researcher feels it urgent that before making recommendations to the government for the adoption of a single variety, the wishes and predilections of the people of Pakistan have to be considered and the reasons why some prefer British variety and some the American variety have to be identified and assessed. If they preferred a feature of English, then did they know which variety it belonged to and if they knew then why did they like it. In the process, the researcher also strove to find out as to what extent the knowledge of literature and history of the country of the variety, contributed to affecting the preference of the Pakistani people. Data was gathered from sixty-six participants from two universities of Pakistan, namely Kohat University of Science and Technology (KUST) Kohat from the KP Province on the provincial level, and National University of Modern Languages (NUML) Islamabad from the Federal capital, Islamabad, on the federal level; participants were enquired about their approaches, attitudes, and feelings towards the variety of English they preferred and to explain reasons and motives behind the selection/rejection of one or other of the two varieties, through a questionnaire having seven close-ended and three open-ended items.