English Slang

English Slang

When you travel to a foreign country, you will notice that even if your English is advanced enough to easily get around, you may find that there are new words that you have never heard before!  Not only are you dealing with the English dialect, but many English speaking countries have country-specific, or even community-specific, words that are used in informal situations or when dealing with taboo issues. In English, we call these words slang.

Like in many other languages and perhaps in your home country as well, there are informal words or phrases that originate from your dialect that are only used informally or to indirectly refer to something that is not easily accepted mainstream. If your native language is wide spread, when you have a visitor from another region you will notice that they may use other words to refer to the same thing.

In English, slang is commonly used throughout the world and can be a cultural insight into the culture and lives of the people. The use of these words can vary to such an extent across social, economic and ethnic circles. In other cases, you can even draw on geographical differences; slang in the United States is different from that in the United Kingdom – or even Australia or New Zealand.

You will notice that either informally, or more commonly around younger people, the use of slang words arise most commonly and may or may not appear in your dictionary. As you learn English overseas, keep a notebook with you to jot down the new words you learn. Try to challenge yourself and come up with a possible meaning using the context in which the way is expressed. You can then use online resources, like Urban Dictionary or the Online Slang Dictionary to decipher the true meaning. We guarantee that a few of these will get a few laughs!


English Becomes Compulsory in Japan

Starting in April, Japan will be introducing English to fifth and sixth grade children between the ages of 10 and 12. This new curriculum came when Japanese students had one of the lowest TOEFL scores among all of the Asian nations.

Why? In many countries in Asia, English is taught as a second language starting in primary school. Take, for instance, South Korea, who made English mandatory for students beginning in 1997. There is also China who has been requiring English studies in primary school since 2005.

Japan, in an attempt to catch up, has placed great importance on English language at a young age so that students would have long-term success in this globalized world. While the goal is not concrete, officials are creating a curriculum where students will learn a minimum of 285 words and 50 expressions by the time they leave primary school.

As countries trade with other countries, the primary language of communication is generally done in English. While Japan has been internationally recognized as a leading nation in terms of production and trade, Japan’s government has been under intense lobbyist efforts by the business community to improve English skills. As the 4th largest exporting country and 3rd highest gross domestic product (GDP) in the world, Japan is feeling the pressure to remain competitive in order to maintain this position. One of these ways is seen as teaching English to students at a young age.

As April approaches, teachers are feeling ill prepared to teach English. While many agree that learning English from an early age will be critical to the long career that awaits them, critics say that teachers are not properly trained and do not feel comfortable speaking English in front of the class. A recent survey by Benesse Corp questioned 8,000 teachers and found that 62% felt that English was a burden and 73% said it would be better to have a teacher specializing in English instruction.

In either case, English learning for Japanese students is hoped to make a positive influence on these children in hopes of creating high performance in the workforce.


Learning English in South Korea: Can Robots be Teachers?

English in South Korea
Photo: VOA – J. Strother

Welcome Mr. Robot.

Who said that students cannot learn English from a computer? Try asking some of the students in South Korea; their teacher is a speaking, moving robot.

Over the last decade, South Korea has realized the importance of learning English. To spearhead English learning, the South Korean government has been hiring native English speakers to teach English in their schools.

In addition to learning English at school, parents are also sending their children to after school programs to further improve their English. Because of the high demand, English teachers are in short supply and costing parents thousands and thousands of dollars each year.

The solution? Now, a group of engineers may have changed the way students learn languages in the classroom. These lead engineers have created an egg-shaped robot designed to act, speak, and move like a teacher.  This is not just a computer, this robot is an interactive teaching machine that teaches students to sing songs and repeat key English phrases. These engineers have even added motion and expression similar to that of a teacher in order to give students the full English language experience with their robotic teacher.

The hope for these robots is that they will be incorporated into schools to help South Korean students learn English in addition to saving money and making up for the shortfall in native English speaking teachers.

While interacting with an English speaker is suspected to be more rewarding, this is seen as a good way to help students start learning English.

Click here to view the full article in more detail.


Tagum City: IELTS Results Declared Important

Dear World:
Take notes from the awesome people of Tagum City, Philippines.

Every year, a few butchers and electricians in Tagum City are deployed to Canada and Australia to compete and put their skills to use in the global job market. But it seems city government officials have caught on to a rapidly growing trend – English as a second language. In an effort to give their workers a “competitive edge,” the government has administered Saturday morning English learning sessions, or Skilled Workers English Enhancement Program (SWEEP).

With the leadership of 4 English professors from UM Tagum College, the workers are able to prepare for the IELTS exam.

Anwar Maadel, the city’s literacy council, said “The mayor had found out that in 2010, our workers’ IELTS results were very low so he wanted to help improve it through Sweep.”

To read more about what this one little corner of the world is doing to better the education of its citizens and contributing to the global conversation, check out the full article here of how learning English impacted Tagum City.