I don’t often use the poll feature on my blog, but today I am definitely going to put it to good use. Please help me determine what the trend is among ELTs. Are you teaching your students to say it’s “two thousand twelve” or “twenty-twelve”?
If you vote, please also comment and let me know which part of the world you are writing from. Perhaps we’ll see a trend that is related to geography.
I spent some time this morning reading other blogs, polls, and discussion boards that addressed this topic, but none drew the opinions of those who are teaching English as a second or foreign language. Do we treat this question as a grammar or vocabulary topic? Does pronunciation come into play, since there might be a preference for easier rhythm and alliteration?
We began this century by saying “two thousand.” We continued to be in agreement in the single digits all the way up to 2009 (“two thousand nine”), but Americans at least have made different choices as speakers since 2010. Around me I heard both “two thousand ten” and “twenty-ten.” But why the switch? We usually refer to 1901 as “nineteen-oh-one,” so why didn’t we start with “twenty-oh-one” back in 2001? We initiated a new speaking pattern in the 21st century. Is it only tradition that prompts us to return to the practice of splitting the four-digit year into a two-number reading?
Personally, I have continued with the “two thousand” pattern. I will soon post a lesson on YouTube teaching beginners how to read dates (Lesson 40). I am using my preferred practice, but noting “twenty-something” as an alternative. In my opinion, both readings are acceptable. It’s a matter of speaking style. My one fear is that perhaps I’m dating myself. The preference for “twenty-something” may become the norm. In twenty years, if my videos are still being watched, young folk might find my speaking style old-fashioned. Teachers in 2032 may have to add an explanatory note: “Jennifer is a teacher from an older generation. She uses the acceptable but outdated practice of saying two thousand when she says the year.”