Fri, 13 Apr 2018 11:39:47 +0000Géralde Vincent-BancroftIf you have a look at the countless language courses available, slang is not usually taught. It is a neglected part of any language and it plays an important role if you want to become fluent.
Textbooks or online courses are important because they give you the foundations of the language. You…
If you have a look at the countless language courses available, slang is not usually taught. It is a neglected part of any language and it plays an important role if you want to become fluent.
Textbooks or online courses are important because they give you the foundations of the language. You will be able to communicate your needs and people will certainly understand you, but you will not reap the benefits of the use of slang, if you’re not interested in learning it.
The importance of Slang in language learning
Languages evolve at a fast pace, and often words acquire different meanings according to the age group you’re talking to. This brings me to the first advantage of learning slang. it keeps you up-to date with the progression of the language. You’re able to talk to all generations.
When you know the slang used in your target language, the natives stop seeing you as an outsider and you’ve got the feeling to be one of them. This can happen if you move to different regions of the same country as well. For example here in the UK there are expressions used in the North that people in the South would not understand; so if you learned these “northern words” you would rally with the north and be considered a Northerner.
This describes mainly the purpose of slang. it helps create a sense of community,a sense of “us” against “them”,
So, if your intention is to go and live in the country where your target language is spoken, in order to get a full immersion when you’re there, you should learn the slang or you won’t be able to fully communicate with the natives.
Haven’t you had the opportunity, when travelling, to listen to locals talking in the heat of the occasion about football, or politics? I have, and even though your knowledge of the language is high you will feel lost at times if you don’t know slang.
When I moved from Spain to Mexico, it took me a while to learn the Mexican expressions and my friends at school were amused when I didn’t understand some of them. Learning slang allows you to better express yourself in context.
If you know slang you can avoid big mistakes. For example expressions that are accepted in Mexico would be extremely offensive in other parts of the Spanish speaking world, and it happens all over, when the same language is spoken by multiple nations. You need to know what is allowed so that you can thread carefully.
You have a greater learning opportunity when you include slang in your studies. You grow your vocabulary and expression list, as one word can have very different meaning depending on the context it is used. It helps you find clever ways to improve memorisation.
Another advantage is this one. In recent years the media are moving from formal language and you see more slang and informal speech on their platforms. If you’re not prepared you can get easily confused.
I have pointed out the benefits of knowing slang in your target language, so far, and to answer the question, my personal opinion is that slang is relevant in language learning once the foundations of the language are clear. But some students have voiced out objections and the main one is the following. They claim that language learning is hard enough remembering vocabulary and grammar structures to add to it learning slang, which will need an extra effort. They point out that they would not know where or when to use it. This last one is a fair point because at times it’s difficult to draw the line between casual and offensive.
Remember that, although important, slang will never be more relevant than knowing the proper structures of your target language.
Is slang relevant or not: what do you think? feel free to hit the comment button and leave your opinion.
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