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Basically, to slang or not to slang.

Emma is a Teaching Assistant who works for Protocol Education in Wolverhampton

Basically, to slang or not to slang.  You get me?

A few weeks ago I was watching the news and I was interested to hear about a school in South London that has banned certain words from the classroom.  No, not swearing, but common slang words and phrases.  The offensive words in question were; coz, innit, like, bare, extra, we woz, you woz, beginning sentences with basically and ending sentences with yeah.  The theory behind this censorship being that the school wanted to raise standards and increase the pupil's chances of successfully entering the job market.

Lack of understanding?

Though I believe the real issue here is in understanding, or lack there of.  Adults, myself included just don't understand this modern vernacular.  What are kids talking about? This reminds me of a conversation I had last night with a friend.  She's a new mum and spends a lot if her time watching children's TV with her daughter.  I asked if she'd ever watched a show called Rastamouse.  For those who haven't seen this gem of a programme it's about a Rastafarian mouse and his reggae band who solve mysteries in their spare time,  all the while speaking in Jamaican patois.  She vehemently refused to watch it as she said she couldn't understand what they were saying.


And that's the problem.  We can't easily de-code the modern language and most of us, if we are honest, don't want to! What's wrong with speaking standard English? We've been doing it all our lives, haven't we? Or have we? When I was at school anything good was 'bad' and teachers sighed and complained about the diminishing modern language.  It just didn't make sense to them.  But that was just how we spoke.  Innit, isn't new.  My friends in school used it all the time. So, these days kids are using words that send us running to google to translate. 

That's nothing new, though in those days we had paper books called dictionaries.  It never hurt our chances of becoming gainfully employed.  Who really goes into a job interview, fist bumps the interviewer and says 'wassup?' By suggesting that children/ teenagers do not possess the common sense or ability to change their language to the suit the situation is doing them a total disservice.  Even with modern 'urban' language being spoken in communities they are still getting access to standard English.  Until teachers start taking the register with "You here, blood?"  Then I think the English language will be safe.

Evolving Language

Times change and language evolves and despite the common misconception that slang is restricted to a minority of teenagers living in urban areas, slang is everywhere.  It is a part of the modern language and culture for people from all walks of life; the politicians who start most sentences with basically, the footballers who can't give an interview without saying "at the end of the day", the best friend who calls you up to tell you "she turned around and said.". All this turning around makes my head spin! But like it or loathe it slang is here to stay.  You know what I mean?

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Tags: EmmaH, Protocol Education, Teaching Assistant, Language, Slang, Learning, Teacher, Rastamouse

Category: Australian Teachers

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