Teach English in SuoborigA Zhen - Chifeng Shi

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The topic of teaching slang and idioms really excites me, since this part of English has a great significance and carries out many functions. Slang and idioms are an important part of the language since they are often used by native speakers in verbal communication and knowing how to appropriately use slang and idioms in speech enriches one’s vocabulary, making a person sound a more fluent and interesting. In turn, etymology of slang or idioms can tell the origin of the person and even the socio-economic status that they associate themselves with. After all, teaching slang and idioms is incredibly fun, especially if you are teaching it to bilingual students since translating some idioms directly into their native tongue would not make any sense, and quite often would sound very bizarre. According to Cambridge dictionary an idiom is a group of words arranged in a fixed order that have a particular meaning that is different from the meanings of each word on its own. Phrases like “pull bananas out of your ears!” or “when a crayfish whistles on the top of the hill” would make absolutely no sense to a native English speaker, however they are Russian idioms, the first one is usually used to express frustration when someone is not listening closely to what you have to say, and the latter is another way of saying ‘it is never going to happen’. I believe that in order to make teaching of slang effective, the material taught should be carefully tailored to a particular group of students, considering their age. There is very little sense in teaching Shakespearean language to a group of seven year olds, however teaching modern slang to a group of teenagers or adults would result in a lot of engagement. One should note, teaching how to use idioms or slang terms i.e providing an example of the context in which to use new vocabulary is as important as teaching the meaning of new vocabulary. Another reason why I am interested about teaching slang and idioms is because of teaching aids and material that can be used in the lesson : abstracts from movies, TV-series, popular songs - all of those are great representatives of the culture, and in my opinion is the next best thing after the real life experience of interacting with native speakers. In turn, this means that teaching idioms and slang would only be appropriate for intermediate or above level students, as teaching slang to low-level students will cause a lot of confusion and wouldn’t be as successful. Anticipated difficulties of teaching slang and idioms may arise for the reasons such as the gap in students’ understanding of the surface meaning of the idiom and the actual meaning. This problem can be avoided by implementing correct teaching aids in order to create necessary associations. Other difficulties in understanding could arise depending on the absence or presence of the equivalent idiom in students’ native language. So in some sense teaching idioms or slang could be made easier if students also obtain some knowledge about the culture. Further I would like to assess techniques that I think would be perfectly suited for teaching idioms to non-English speakers. Slang terms and idioms are perfect sources of comic imagery, so using visual aids to explain the meaning of a word/phrase or a context allows for a great opportunity to implement elements of humour into a lesson. Not only it will help to establish rapport with students, but it would also make teaching more effective as students feel more relaxed. For the sake of simplicity, it seems like a good idea to separate idioms or slang terms into groups by meaning, for example to cover ‘food associated’ idioms in one lesson, and in another one to tackle idioms that have animal words in them. This way students would be able to generate particular associations with new vocabulary and learn it effectively. Another teaching aid to implement when teaching idioms could be to introduce Amelia Bedelia -children’s book character who takes figures of speech too literally. This type of teaching material would be more suitable for young learners, however an occasional worksheet or a page featuring Amelia would add more fun into adults’ lesson too. In conclusion I would like to outline the main points that concern teaching slang and idioms. Firstly, idioms and slang are important parts of language learning. Slang and idioms are frequently used by native speakers, especially when communicating verbally, so it is crucial that students learn this vocabulary to improve their language level. Common difficulties arise when the direct and actual meaning of idioms are confused, so it is important to use correct teaching techniques such as using visual aids and giving examples of vocabulary used in context to avoid these problems.