At one point in time, I had considered teaching English abroad, but I decided to pursue internet marketing and writing instead.
One school in Taiwan I researched was very specific about their teachers having North American accents, i.e. students should learn American English. Interestingly enough, the school was privately run by a Canadian couple.
They're not the only schools looking for native North-American English teachers. Many schools in Korea also want their students to learn English from teachers coming from Canada and the USA.
This is a huge surprise to me. I thought the most desired English teachers came from the UK, Australia or New Zealand. That trend seems to be changing a bit.
What is so special about learning American English?
I suppose it has to do with business and that, currently, the United States is considered one of the most important business authorities in the world.
To me English is English, regardless of where the native speaker comes from. The structure is the same. The grammar is the same. The accents are different. Pronunciation is different. Spelling might be slightly different but not by much.
Yes, native speakers use words and phrases to mean something different in one culture than it does in another. I understand this can be confusing for people wanting to learn English. Please, don't be bothered by this.
From our point of view, as native English speakers, as long as you can communicate your ideas, that's already good enough. If you're Chinese with a UK accent, we can tell where you learned your English from. Doesn't matter to us, really.
In my opinion, as an American, learning American English has no more advantage than learning English from an Australian. In fact, I think it's cool to be exposed to the different types of accents and cultural phrasings.
When I was learning Spanish, my first teacher was Mexican, so I adopted her pronunciation patterns. My second teacher taught Castellano, or Castilian Spanish. He was from Spain. So my pronunciation changed significantly. At the end of the day, it's still Spanish.
If you were an actor, I can understand the importance of nailing the accent for authenticity, but for business? Come on.
I do recognize that certain customer service venues located in non-native speaking countries go out of their way to learn American English in order to make American customers feel more comfortable. If that seems to work for the business, then that's fine.
On the other hand, I've dealt with customer service members from these exact same countries who spoke English in the accent of their native tongue who helped me resolve issues satisfactorily. So, once again, I don't see the advantage of having to learn American English.
Clearly, the advantage is for North American teachers. They have more opportunities for teaching jobs abroad.
When learning English, simply keep in mind basic pronunciation and being able to communicate your ideas. Don't worry if you don't get the accent right. Practice with any fluent English speaker you have an opportunity to speak with, and your English will become better over time.