Teach English in Luoxi Zhen - Changzhou Shi

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Teaching informal English language forms such as slang and idioms is a subjective matter, and these are usually omitted from the syllabus. As I have stated in one of my unit overviews, I have 3 years of English language teaching experience. Judging from this experience, many ESL students are curious about slang and idioms. Slang and idioms can be encountered in everyday conversations, songs, movies, and books, so it is important for students to be aware of them. By “slang” I do not mean only profanity, but also colloquialisms like “gonna”, “wanna”, “gimme”, etc. Therefore, I believe that students should be introduced to these forms of the English language, their meanings and appropriate usage. Although informal speech is becoming more and more common in almost all English-speaking communities, students are not usually exposed to it in the classroom. Instead, they are being taught grammar, formalities, vocabulary and syntax. Fair enough, learning general and proper structures should be viewed as the first step of language acquisition. Memorizing and mastering all the new language structures is already difficult, but learning idioms (like “to take the biscuit”, “to hit the sack”, etc.), which are usually untranslatable to any other language and should just be understood rather than directly translated into the first language, might seem impossible at the initial stage. However, the second step of language acquisition, which is the ability to think and speak like a native, should not be neglected. For instance, I have been learning Turkish for almost 6 years, but keep encountering unfamiliar forms of spoken or informal language whenever I interact with the native speakers. I have not been taught any Turkish slang or idioms in the classroom, so these language forms often catch me off guard and make me feel like a scared student. In other words, if we take even a brilliant learner of English out of the class and expose him to the real world of English speakers, misunderstandings and confusions will be inevitable. In addition to learning the meanings of the most common slang words, students should be aware of the appropriateness of each slang term. Many slang expressions are considered to be a taboo in a polite and civil society, so we must make sure that students do not overuse them. For example, one should not greet his boss by asking “What’s up, bro?” and should stick to more formal forms of greeting. Nonetheless, such informal greeting is considered to be perfectly fine among close friends. We must explain the exact meanings of words like “dope”, “fly”, “chick” etc., and describe when and where it is appropriate and inappropriate to use them. This will help to avoid awkward situations, where learners can unintentionally seem to be uncivil or even hurt someone’s feelings. All in all, I believe that teaching slang and idioms is essential in order to help students interact with the native speakers of English, but this should be done after they have already mastered most of the proper language mechanisms. Thus, informal speech should be introduced at the Advanced level, and students must know the meaning, connotation and appropriate usage of each idiom or slang term.