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Bridging the Gap: The Time and Place for Slang

Slang is defined as "a type of language consisting of words and phrases that are regarded as very informal, are more common in speech than writing, and are typically restricted to a particular context or group of people."

"That movie was LIT!"

"Uh-oh! Steve is salty because he got extra homework."

"OMG! Did you see what Kim is wearing today? She’s so extra!"

Why is slang important and should we be learning it in school?

Before we answer these questions, it’s important to understand the evolution of language.

Can you picture language as something that is living, growing and evolving? It's difficult to imagine language in those terms but the truth is, as we change, so does our language, and it has been this way since language was first developed.

According to a paper titled, "Slang and its History" written by Jenna Fasola, the way slang is thought to have originated is less than respectable. Fasola says, "John Ayto in the Introduction to the "Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang" writes that the first to which the term "slang" was applied, in the mid-eighteenth century, was the special vocabulary used by any set of persons of a low and disreputable character. In the earlier centuries it was referred to as thieves’ cant or patter of earlier centuries."

These days, slang is not limited to thieves. With the prevalence of internet culture, slang is commonplace and is evolving more rapidly than ever before. Young people draw inspiration from memes, GIF’s, songs, movies and popular celebrities. Slang is a way to express oneself and demonstrate belonging to a particular culture, group or time. Slang is so inextricably woven onto our culture that for one to try and ignore it entirely, would - and often does - give way to great confusion.

Should we teach slang?

In short, no.

We don’t believe our teachers should include it in their curriculums.

Slang is informal language and educational institutions such as ME, seek to teach our students formal, correct, precise and academic language skills. We would never want our students to make use of slang in their written or oral examinations, nor in the interview process.

While we don’t advocate teaching slang as part of our curriculums, we do value the importance of our students (and teachers) teaching it to one another during their social interactions.