Why Slang is Important for Language Learning


Putting in serious classroom time is important when it comes to learning a new language, however, no amount of time in class can prepare you for the contemporary nuances you’ll be faced with when you put your language knowledge to practical use out in the real world.

Slang is just one of those aspects of language which isn’t usually taught in the classroom but is an important part of becoming proficient in any language. Even countries which speak the same language, such as Britain and the U.S., have huge slang differences, and understanding what your counterparts are trying to say is important for quick and efficient communication as well as a means to develop a stronger cultural bond. But don’t believe me, check out the facts: here are three reasons why slang is vital for language aptitude.

1. Helps you have greater learning opportunities.

One of the number one tips to successfully learning a new language is to immerse yourself in it as much as possible. Movies, books, and music are all conducive assistants to language learning, but you won’t get very far if you can’t understand key slang phrases. Take, for example, the word “chick” – a slang term usually used in the U.S. when referring to women or girls and common in movies, books, and music – if a student of the English language were to translate this word using the dictionary, they would find a completely different meaning. Changing the meaning changes the context of the sentence, hence causing the student to struggle with comprehension. The same applies for other languages. If you put in the effort to learn slang, your ability to better study the language increases exponentially.

2. Helps you to stay current.

Slang is unavoidable, no matter what language you’re learning, and slang2is becoming increasingly more common with the advent of Twitter and other internet shorthand. Studies show that 64% of students in the U.S. resort to slang on a daily basis – whether writing or speaking – and these numbers should be a huge indicator of just how much widespread slang is becoming. Most internet forums tend to break language rules when it comes to the way words are used. Imagine, just a little over a year ago, words like “buzzworthy” and “twerking” weren’t really considered valid parts of language, but now they are terms applied online and via contemporary modems every single day. Keeping up with slang is an important way to keep yourself current regarding not only what is happening in the world around you, but also to keep up with the evolution of the language you’re learning.

3. Helps you to avoid a faux pas.

Sure, slang can go a long way to helping you to communicate more informally, but it can also help you when it comes to knowing exactly what to say. Take Spanish, slangthere are plenty of words which could easily be misused if you don’t keep up with contemporary slang. For example, your dictionary may tell you that the word “estupido” simply means “stupid” which would be a pretty ordinary word in the English language. However, in Spanish “estupido” is considered a big insult and should be used sparingly, if at all. Don’t shove your foot in your mouth by not paying attention to the slang of the language; instead, give slang its due and you’ll avoid offending a lot of people.

Before you get too weighed down by the prospect of wading your way through waves of slang, consider that setting up a firm language foundation is an imperative first step. Sign up for language classes to do just that, and keep your root skills sharp with free online placement tests. Once you’ve got your classroom skills down pat, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the ever-changing, ever-fascinating world of slang!