News / USA

Demand Grows for Classes in English Slang

Demand Grows for Classes in English Slangi
X
November 27, 2013 12:01 AM
Many people who learn English as a second language think they have a good grasp of it until they watch an American TV show or speak to someone from the United States. Then they realize there's a lot they don’t understand. Some are coming to the United States to learn American slang and that's sparking greater demand for courses that teach it. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.

Demand Grows for Classes in English Slang

Elizabeth Lee
Many people who learn English as a second language think they have a good grasp of it until they watch an American TV show or speak to someone from the United States and realize there's a lot they don’t understand. Some are actually coming to the U.S. to learn American slang, since it's rarely taught in textbooks back home. 
 
Most people come to Venice Beach seeking sun and entertainment, but for Hussain al Shahri of Saudi Arabia and his classmates, the beach is a classroom.
 
Their teachers are strangers they meet by the beach.
 
Al Shahri is taking a class on American “street talk” and slang. Field trips, combined with classroom discussion, make up most of his learning experience in a class at the University of California Los Angeles.
 
“If you want to know this culture, you have to communicate with people and socialize. So slang language is the only way to communicate and socialize with people," said Al Shahri.
 
Knowing the culture also means learning from American media, said “Street Talk” instructor Ryan Finnegan.
 
“American movies are global, and [so is] American music. So they hear these words, and they hear them used a lot, and they see maybe people laughing at those words, and they want to understand what’s funny about that,” explained Finnegan.
 
Finnegan pointed out the slang in TV shows as examples for his students.  Student Zhang Jiu Hua said the English she learned in China was very different. 
 
“It makes my English style more academic and formal and a little bit stiff. I don’t want to be that way,” said Zhang.
 
Zhang said that through the use of American slang and idioms, she can speak more casually and use humor in her speech. Through slang, she is also learning about differences between Chinese and American culture.
 
“There is a slang I love: 'drop dead gorgeous.' In my culture, I still remember when I was a child my parents told me 'don’t use dead. It’s very rude and unlucky.' And when I say that word 'drop dead gorgeous,' I’m curious. Can I use that? Actually, I love that word,” said Zhang.
 
Finnegan notes that while it provides benefit to students, teaching slang presents a specific set of challenges that more conventional language instruction does not face.
 
“Slang is extremely regional and extremely dynamic.  So the slang from even one year ago is different from the slang of right now,” said Finnegan.
 
Judy Tanka, who develops curriculum at UCLA Extension's American Language Center, said that instructional materials will need to improve as demand for slang and idiom classes grows.
 
“A lot of materials get outdated very quickly and it’s very expensive to republish books frequently with updates, and this is why online materials will be very popular," said Tanka.  
 
With a working knowledge of American slang, Zhang will return to China and use what she's learned to advance her career. Hussain al Shahri said he will be better able to immerse himself in American life as he pursues an education in the United States.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid