This particular subject appealed to me. I whole heartedly support the idea of teaching slang and idioms to students learning English. If you were to listen to any conversation taking place, you would hear slang and idioms being used very frequently throughout the conversation. You can teach a student how to speak proper English and they would, by right, be very proud of what they had accomplished.
Then put those very same students in a situation such as a business meeting or conducting a conversation with a potential client and these students would be totally out of their element. For instance, if a former student were meeting a potential client from the South, as in Texas perhaps, the student would of course introduce him/herself and then ask how they were. Being from the South, the client could perhaps respond with ?I?m finer than peach fuzz.? Ok, this is obviously going to confuse the heck out of the student. The student would understand the words, but not the idea or concept behind what was said.
You could safely say that everyone in native English speaking countries use slang and idioms in everyday speech and in their work places. A student needs to know what these terms and words mean and understand how to use them properly. Case in point, I just sent an email to some one and I told them I was going to shoot them another one later. How would a student who was learning English take this statement of mine? The student very well might think that I was going to literally shoot an email, when in fact; I meant that I was going to send them another.
We cannot get away from slang and idioms. These words and phrases are everywhere; from music to magazines to television. In my humble and untrained opinion, any student who wants to learn the English language should be taught the, context, and usage of slang and idioms. Without it their education in the English language would not be complete. I read an article by a young lady who stated that she was not a native speaker and she learned English to use in her workplace. She further said that the language she heard there was like nothing she had learned. Business slang and idioms are a language unto themselves and she said that she was totally out of her element. (see ref.1)
We, as native speakers of English grow up hearing and using these slang words and idioms. We know what they mean and how to use them. We mistakenly assume that everyone else automatically knows what they mean and how to use them. We use slang and idioms in everyday, informal conversation. It?s with us everywhere. I have also found that the use of slang and idioms vary from geographical location to geographical location. What a person would hear and use down in the South, they would not hear and use up North or out on the West or East coast.
Some of these phrases that I grew up with here in Texas are to my way of thinking to be heard nowhere else. Yet, if a student of English were to come here and hear these phrases, they would be totally lost. Its larapin good was a phrase I grew up with. This means that it was delicious. A student who had just learned the English language would not know this. Here is another one, its so good it?ll make ya wanna slap yor Momma. That is the way it would be pronounced and said. This poor student would be wondering if we actually slapped our Mothers because the food was so good. Here is one that I was told as a child when I was being bad or getting on my Mother?s nerves, ?if you don?t stop, I?m gonna jerk a knot in your tail?! Ok, here is one that is giving a student a very problematic visual. First, they will be wondering if I have a tail and how one would jerk a knot in it. The meaning behind it is that if I didn?t stop what I was doing, I was going to get a spanking.
There is no getting around it, for a student learning the English language they must be taught slang and idioms and the usage of them and what they mean for their education to be complete. This type of language is not vulgar or coarse, even though some words or phrases can be used that way, for the most part this type of language is very colorful and entertaining. It also gives a glimpse into the culture of the region.
I would say in closing that a student who does not learn slang and idioms, their meaning and usage will for the most part, be lost and very confused and quite possibly find themselves in an embarrassing position. As a teacher, I should not let this happen. I should try to see to all aspects of their English education.
-Dawn, the Internet Edition ? ESL Magazine
-Name of Author: Crisiane Antunes de
-Date of post: 2006-09-08
Author: Tereasa Themis
Date of post: 2007-04-11