The big question is: should we learn slang?
I hope you enjoy the introduction, but if you want to skip straight to the lesson, just scroll down the page to the audio called A casual chat between colleagues, and follow the instructions there.
Should we even learn slang?!
I’m inclined to think that if you want to really understand native speakers, then yes, you do need to know a little bit of slang and colloquial expressions!
Like it or not, us native speakers use slang and colloquial language ALL THE TIME!
And the most difficult thing about slang in particular, is that it varies in all the different places where English is spoken. And it also changes depending on one’s age. My 21 year old cousin uses words and expressions that continually have me looking up the meanings on Google!
So if it can be hard on us, I’m betting it can be really confusing for you guys. Especially when a slang word is the main topic of the sentence – this can stop you from understanding the whole lot!
What I would say first and foremost is, don’t worry about this too much! There is no way to possibly learn all the slang out there – I don’t know loads of it myself!
My tip to you is to think about areas that are important to you: what I mean is, if you know you use English a lot for work, then you should focus on learning slang terms, expressions and so on in that field.
If you have an Australian friend and you want to speak more with them, brush up on Aussie slang.
If it’s British or American slang you’re interested in, watch the most common TV shows from that country. Check out forums and facebook groups too – these are great for finding examples of ‘real’ English.
Another tip – if you realise that you start to hear the same word coming up again and again, that means it is common: i.e. it is a high frequency word. You need to focus on learning high frequency words because obviously, if they are used a lot, you want to be able to understand and maybe use them when you speak as well.
This tip applies to phrasal verbs also. If you keep coming across the same PV, it means it’s high frequency – so learn it!
Now it’s your turn to try some slang and colloquial language out! Work through the lesson below and by the end of it you’ll have learned 12 typical spoken expressions!
On a side note, this extract has been stolen from module 2, which is called Mind your Language from our advanced English online course Proficiency Project. So, if you’re interested in this kind of language and you want to learn more and become more proficient, you must check out our course, by clicking the link.
Ok, that’s it! Enjoy today’s lesson. And remember to write your answers to the Activate section in the comments below, and I’ll be sure to give you some feedback.
A casual chat between colleagues
1. Listen to the conversation between Steve and Helen. (Just listen and try to catch the general meaning).
2.Listen again pausing at the gaps in the exercise below. Fill in the missing words.
12 colloquial phrases and slang expressions
All the missing phrases from the dialogue above are typical everyday expressions used by native speakers.
Your turn to try out these colloquial and slang expressions!
What would you say? Use the phrases from above.
Write your answers in the comments.
- You are feeling tired and have a lot of tension because of work. What would you say?
- Ask me for help.
- You’ve been looking for a new office chair for weeks. Finally you see one you like in a shop. What would you say?
- How would you ask someone a personal/delicate question?
- Tell a friend to look after themselves.
- Tell your friend you won’t tell anyone their secret.
- A friend says “See you at 15!” How do you respond?
- You need to stop the conversation because you are in a hurry. What do you say?
- You need to help your 12 year old niece with her maths homework, but you don’t understand it! What do you say?
- A colleague asks if you can switch the meeting from Monday to Thursday. That’s not a problem for you. What do you say?