We currently have 145 articles in the Teacher's Handbook See the Full list

Top 10 Informal Words/Expressions to Teach Advanced Students

Emily Smith

In order to have a good command over a language, it’s important for a student to understand it in both formal and informal use. Many advanced students have a good handle on formal English, but lack the ability to understand what’s being said in a casual conversation. This is because there can be a vast difference between formal and informal English. Unfortunately, most textbooks focus solely on formal English. As an English teacher of advanced students, you should make it a point to teach both formal and informal English even when your textbook ignores the latter. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of important informal words and expressions to teach your advanced English students.

e7qd6

1. All over the place – in or around many areas/places. This can also mean “without focus.”
e.g. “I saw posters for the concert all over the place.”
“When she talks, she’s all over the place.”

2. Blabber (verb) – to talk a lot, usually about nothing important. Alternate form: blabbermouth (noun)
e.g. “She is constantly blabbering; I wonder if she will ever shut up. “
“I can’t trust him with a secret like this because he is a blabbermouth.”

3. Catch up – to find out what’s going on in someone’s life.
e.g. “It’s been a long time since we’ve met. Let’s get a cup of coffee and catch up.”

4. Do without – something is not necessary or won’t be had.
e.g. “We don’t have any milk for your tea, so you’ll have to do without.”

5. Fair enough – a way to acknowledge someone’s reason for doing something.
e.g. Bob: “Why didn’t you come to the party?”
Jane: “I’m in the middle of my exams, so I didn’t want to stay out late.”
Bob: “Ah, fair enough.”

Many advanced students have a good handle on formal English, but lack the ability to understand what’s being said in a casual conversation. This is because there can be a vast difference between formal and informal English.

6. Guy – a synonym for man. When used plural it can refer to men and women.
e.g. “Hey guys, let’s get going.”
“I’ve never seen that guy before.

7. Kidding – to joke with someone; something unbelievable.
e.g. Rob: “Hey did you see that there was an alien sighting in our town?”
Lindsey: “No way! That’s so cool!”
Rob: “Dude, I was just kidding.”
e.g. Mom: “The price of gas has gone up by 10 cents a gallon.”
Dad: “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”

8. The thing is – used to start a sentence when a person is about to offer an explanation.
e.g. Teacher: “Did you finish your homework?”
Student: “The thing is last night my uncle came into town and…”
Teacher: “So, you didn’t finish it?”

9. Screw up- to make a mistake
e.g. “He screwed up and bought Cola instead of beer.”

10. Chill out – calm down; relax
e.g. “You need to take a break from work and just chill out.”

These are just a few informal words and expressions that an advanced English student should learn. Learning informal English is important for everyday communication.

What are some other informal words and phrases that you think students should know about?

About the author

Emily has taught English to ESL learners in four Asian countries. Although she taught students from 3-60, she has a definite affection for preschoolers and college students. She has also worked as an ESL curriculum writer and is TESOL certified. When she is not teaching, she loves watching and making films.