Teach English in Taiping Zhen - Enshi Tujiazu Miaozu Zizhizhou

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Last year I returned to the USA after having spent a little over a year in Brazil. Not knowing the language, I was heavily focused on the conversations around me. I was able to pick up the topics and slowly began to understand the content and meaning of what was being discussed. What would then “throw me for a loop” would be words I began to know but were in a jumbled order that made no literal sense to the rest of the sentence. Given my frequent puzzled look, those around me began to realize that such words and phrases made no sense to me and explained the meaning of what they had said. I therefore quickly learned the word “gíria”, which is Portuguese for “slang”. English uses the same concept of slang and idioms in that they are words and phrases that do not use their literal definitions, but convey a meaning behind what is being said. So like my own experience, English learners need to learn and understand the meanings of these commonly used expressions to avoid their own confusion and help them feel more comfortable, especially in a relaxed social environment when much more slang is often used. Many idioms and slang words are consistently used in everyday English. While “it’s not rocket science,'' it might feel that way to someone that is just beginning to learn the language as they need to try to decipher what someone had just said to them. I can only imagine the look one might get from telling an English beginner to “break a leg!” when they only mean to wish them "good luck!" An important note when discussing slang and idioms are the differences of the times. Idioms are often time honored and universal in the language whereas slang is frequently changing from generation to generation or region to region. For example, if a young person were to tell their elderly grandparents that they’re feeling “under the weather”, a common idiom, both generations would understand that to mean “not feeling well.” On the flip side, if a young person were to describe someone using the word “sick” these days, the older generation would probably take that as “ill”, even though the young person meant “cool”. Luckily for me, English and the American lifestyle is something that is of high interest for many Brazilians (which will be my student population). There are slang words that have already passed through to the country through social media and film and television sources such as Facebook and Netflix. Not only are some of these English words and phrases understood, they are often written and spoken in English. “OMG” is one such common slang in texting. While the direct translation is used in both languages (“oh my god” in English and “o meu deus” in Portuguese) it will often come up in text messages by Portuguese speakers as OMG and it will be understood by all due to, again, the high use of modern media, social or otherwise. As mentioned earlier, slang does not only separate generations, it also separates regions in a country. In the United States, a very common regional slang difference comes in when people are going to order a soda. While not every American knows the regional differences themselves (and most servers will understand what you’re asking for), it can be extremely helpful to know if you are going to order a soda, coke, or pop and the choices therein in the area that you’ll be visiting or living (especially when ordering a coke and then being asked which kind). The differences don’t end with food and drink. In place of the word “very”, you’ll probably hear “wicked” in the Boston area or “hella” on the opposite coast in California to mean the same. You may also hear clicker instead of remote control, hoagie instead of sub, or sweeper instead of vacuum. These are only a few of the regional slang words that one might come across. While some of them might not be beneficial for all students, when learning the needs of an individual student, especially for one on one lessons, the teacher may come to see that they plan on being in a specific area. Therefore, reviewing these words will further aid in the development of the students vocabulary and understanding of the English language. To make a long story short, slang and idioms are too common to not teach in the classroom. They are so common that you could kill two birds with one stone and introduce them within almost every class while still keeping to the desired lesson plan. Before long, the students will be able to wrap their heads around the concept and it’ll be a piece of cake for them to work with and understand these sayings and their uses thereby giving them comfort and confidence when speaking the English language, important feelings all within themselves.