Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Slang


I noticed that some English learners really struggle with the concept of slang. Sometimes, they confuse the word with accent - I have heard my students say, "I can't understand his slang," but upon probing further, I find that they meant they couldn't understand the person's accent.

Recently, I posted about the word ain't and noticed that my students were very confused about it. They had been told that it is wrong to use the word ain't and so they couldn't understand why I would post it as a vocabulary item. They were also discussing whether or not it is correct to use gonna, wanna and hafta.

I suppose that the issue is that they were looking at it as a black and white issue. We have formal and informal English. A good example is purchase vs buy. We have spoken and written English (going to vs gonna). A word like ain't is very informal English, but not 'wrong'. We would also expect it to be used by people with certain backgrounds.

As for teaching it as a vocab item, even if it not recommended that students use it, they should be able to recognise it when they hear it in a song or on a TV show.


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