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T.J. - U.S.A. said:
Teaching Idioms & SlangA language isn't just grammar, vocabulary and structure. Language doesn't just sit on a shelf with perfect printed pages. It's a living, moving, changing organ of a community. Because of this, textbook language teaching often isn't enough for a language student. They need to know how the people on the street, or in the office, or on the television talk. "In my years of teaching English (EFL/ESL) in thailand, one thing I've noticed over and over again is my students' inability to understand native english speakers because of the slang and idioms we all use," writes Cassandra James, an EFL/esl teacher, in an article about teaching idioms and slang to ESL business students for Yahoo!. An idiom is a manner of speaking that natural to native speakers, but the words in the sentence does not have a literal translation. Slang is informal language that is used by a specific group or community. Idioms and slang, whether "pure" English or not, are extremely important to know for students who want to be able to readily converse with native speakers. We often say things such as "smack-dab in the middle," "it's raining cats and dogs" or "I scarfed down the food," and if the student tries to translate those sayings directly it wont make any sense. As native speakers we use idioms and slang all the time--just like the students do in their native tongue. Knowing and studying idioms and slang can help give students an advantage over others. And knowing them can also help the student feel more connected with the language and culture the language comes from. It is important to note that idioms and slang will change from English speaking region to country. This is because idioms and slang are part of the culture, the community, that uses the language to communicate. As noted earlier, the language is alive, so it will change depending on where you go. As a teacher it is important to recognize what English speaking culture the student will have more connection with. For example, Spanish students are more likely to run into British English, so it would be wise for the teacher to spend more time focusing on British idioms and slang. However, this does not mean that American idioms and slang should be avoided. Especially with many of todays films coming from the US, the students may have many opportunities to hear American idioms and slang as well. Now, one might say that in academic courses the student's wont need to know any idioms or slang. But if we look at many great literature novels or even sometimes academic papers, we will find idioms and slang. Maybe not as many in the academic papers, but it is very likely there might be one or two. For a student to truly understand and communicate in a language, they must have some understanding of idioms and slang. In an article for eHow, Karen Farnen writes that it is important not to give the students too many idioms or slang words at one time. Give it to the students in manageable blocks. Have the students practice them in dialogues and "real life" situations so they can put them into context. Use the grammar or vocabulary structures you are studying to back up a certain idiom or slang. It's important to combine both the textbook English with the "street" English--just like many native english speakers do on a daily basis. Many teachers find that idioms and slang are important for students to know so they can better integrate into the language they are studying. So they can actually use the language--in this case English--with real native speakers. But it is also important to have a good understanding of textbook English. The students need to know how to formulate a sentence (and in the right tense) and use vocabulary just as much as they should know about slang and idioms of the language. As James writes, "I always have at least one class on slang and idioms." References: Farnen, Karen. "How to Teach Slang/Idioms to esl students |" EHow | Web. 30 Nov. 2011. . "Idioms." Vocabulary Games and Resources. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. . James, Cassandra. "Free EFL/ESL Lesson Plan: Teaching Slang and Idioms to Business English students." Yahoo! - 30 Dec. 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. .