5 reasons why slang is important in language learning

In our previous article, we blessed you with some questionable historical facts on the various origins of slang.

Now, let’s take a look at 5 compelling reasons why slang is essential in your language learning process. It’s the top 5 list you didn’t know existed and can easily live without. 

Without further ado, here are 5 reasons to add a bit of slang to your twang.

#1 To avoid a major linguistic faux-pas

Understanding (and memorizing) popular slang words is objectively one of the toughest aspects of learning a new language. On your way towards English fluency, you’re bound to attempt a slang term and sound straight-up wack, homies.

Slang terms carry nuance or intricacy often lost on non-native speakers. Some English slang terms could potentially be misinterpreted as being offensive or insulting. Such is the case with the British slang term “bloody” used to express anger or frustration. Others may express the opposite of their literal sense: The term “sick” means “cool” or “awesome” in a slang context, but refers to poor health. 

On the other hand, some terms may seem harmless but are more offensive than you may think: estupido in Mexican Spanish expresses a much stronger meaning than the English adjective “stupid” – and using it may make heads turn.

The effectiveness of slang also depends on your conversation partner. If you’re having lunch with your French employer, it might be ill-mannered to casually slip in a French argot slang word and it may put you at a disadvantage. On the other hand, your newly-found French pals may find your choice of words endearing.

#2 To blend in with the locals and speak like an insider

Non-native speakers can’t be expected to sound natural based only on their learning in French, English, German, Spanish or Italian class. Squeezing in a few slang words here and there can and will set you apart. 

Slang will help you express a wider range of emotions, and help you communicate more efficiently on public transport, in cafes and restaurants or with your Airbnb host. That’s just f*&king A.

By learning a variety of both older and newer slang terms, you’ll be able to understand and engage in conversations with different generations. Ultimately, using slang will help you blend in and find common ground with your crew. 

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#3 To get a feel of a language’s culture

Slang isn’t simply words and phrases used in an informal context. It’s also learning about the history of the language and the communities who use and have used the language. Say you’re learning English: by adding British slang, Canadian slang or Australian slang words to your lexicon, you’ll get a better feel of the history of the English language and learn new cultural and historical references. 

Learning a language through slang may also improve your overall cultural experience. Whether found in TV series, books, songs, podcasts, slang is omnipresent. However, if you have very little knowledge of some of the most common slang words, chances are you’ll be missing out on some fundamental cultural elements of the language you’re learning.

#4 To stay current with new language trends

It’s a possibility that you may be overwhelmed by the abundance of slang terms and phrases Spanish, German, French, Italian or English have to offer, but it’s important to keep up with the latest slang terms if you want to stay hip. One of the greatest things about slang (and most annoying for language learners) is that it is one of the fastest evolving forms of language. This means slang words can take on a new meaning over time to reflect a culture’s values. Slang can even give standard words new meanings. For instance, the slang term “flex” now refers to the act of “showing off” or “boasting” (like flexing one’s muscles) more often than its literal meaning of “to bend”.

#5 To go beyond textbooks

If you’re struggling with learning a foreign language, you’ll probably want to move away from classroom textbooks. Slang is a type of informal language you won’t typically find in grammar books, but is paramount when traveling or studying abroad. While learning slang words and expressions may not be the first area of language you study, you should think about jumping into it relatively quickly. 

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Here are some top 5 lists of the most common slang words in English, French, German and Spanish.

Slang in the English language:

Slang in the French language:

5 French argot words that will increase your crédibilité dans la rue

Slang in the German language:

5 German slang words that are der hammer, if you ask us.

Slang in the Spanish language:

5 Spanish slang words you need to learn ahora mismo

Want to f#@^ with slang on a deeper level? Try our online language courses for free for 7 days!

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