Using slang in the classroom can be a fun experience for both teachers and students. But as fun as it may be, teachers must keep in mind that slang is not appropriate for everyone. If your class will not put this language to use (business English students, test prep students, etc.) then it is best to avoid focusing on this topic. However, if your students are planning to interact with native speakers, take trips abroad, or if they have business clients from English speaking countries then learning some common informal phrases and words would definitely come in handy.
What are some effective ways to get your students learning some popular casual expressions?
Listening activities: students should try to get their ears accustomed to hearing slang terms being used in specific contexts. It is very important that students get to listen and analyze informal expressions as used by native speakers through audio activities. It is also very important for students get to hear casual conversations in their natural rhythm and pace so that they become even more familiar with how certain slang words are used. Try to search for audio clips online which will allow students to listen conversations between two or more people. Depending on your class’ needs you may work with audio clips relating to business, casual talk, travelling, apologizing, etc. As your students listen to the clips, provide them with a script where they must fill in the blanks to certain parts of the dialogue. This activity is perfect for getting students to memorize and analyze popular slang words.
It is very important that students get to listen and analyze informal expressions as used by native speakers through audio activities. It is also very important for students get to hear casual conversations in their natural rhythm and pace so that they become even more familiar with how certain slang words are used.
Movie scenes and clips from television series: a very effective and entertaining way to get your students to learn some informal English expressions is to show them how they’re used through video examples. Many teachers prefer following an entire episode of a popular television show or focusing on individual scenes from movies or popular series. Show your students these videos and while they listen to the dialogue, encourage them to observe other more subtle details like body language, gestures, and voice tones.
Written examples: Some students learn things more effectively when they work with certain language structures on paper. Another great way to teach slang is by giving your class quizzes, fill in the blank activities, or written examples on the board. Get your students familiar with common slang words by giving them plenty of information and context clues. Make sure that your questions and written examples are not too vague since the context is what will provide the most clues for your students. For example, you may give your class a sentence like “My cousin is completely freaked out by spiders, when he sees one he panics and screams loudly” then provide some multiple choice answers.
Role Play: After your class has learned a few important slang words, have them apply what they have learned by taking part in some role play activities. A great activity that you can use with your students involves writing 3 slang words on the board and giving two of your students a specific scenario to act out. Let’s pretend that you tell your students to act out a visit to the doctor’s office, provide them with some slang words, but remind them that only one of those expressions is appropriate for the role play situation. This activity can also be modified to fit your students’ language level and specific needs.
Slang is an important aspect of any language and once students reach a certain level in their learning process, it is important to learn the less academic form of English. Along with teaching slang, don’t forget to focus some attention on common idiomatic expressions and phrasal verbs too.
What about you? Can you think of any other ways to help students learn informal English words? We’d love to hear your thoughts!