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Teaching bad language
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Joined: 13 Nov 2005
Posts: 246

PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2005 10:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found a great mp3 file at
scroll down to the file called 'The F-Word" Rolling Eyes . The F is not for fart here.
It is a very interesting gramatical excursion into the F- word Cool .

N.B. I would not use this for teaching LOL Very Happy Laughing
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Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3030
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LMU versus MLU:
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Anuradha Chepur

Joined: 10 Jun 2006
Posts: 234
Location: India

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember this strip of Calvin & Hobbes. For a 'show and tell' class, Calvin confidently and rather proudly brings cards with the first and last letters of a swear word on each. The class has to shout the word after the clue. (Next his teacher, Ms.Wormwood, takes him to the Principal).
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Joined: 28 Nov 2004
Posts: 10
Location: Nanning, China

PostPosted: Wed Aug 30, 2006 2:53 am    Post subject: Students need awareness of slang and swearing Reply with quote

The situation which Amy h describes in Germany is fairly common in China as well.

Most of my serious students are studying English with the intention of going to university in Britain or the USA. But they usually have a very naive view of life in the West.

At an appropriate moment in the course I do warn them that the textbook English they are learning will equip them to understand their lectures in university. But if they go to the pub or the market in Britain they may understand very little because much of it will be slang and swearing.

I warn them that, girls especially, may be shocked by the sexual crudity of much of the language they hear and that they may be subjected to racism. I also tell them that they will often have a superior vocabulary in English to most council estate Britons but to be careful how they display that superiority to avoid giving offence.

These comments are usually met with incredulity by the students. But I will persist because in my home town of Loughborough I have seen too many foreign students arrive unprepared for these things and suffer severe culture shock as a result.

I suspect that the original poster's company in Japan have a shrewd idea of what their workers may face in the USA and are merely trying to prepare them for it.

I don't teach swear words in class. It is difficult for Chinese students to grasp that there are subtle differences in meaning depending when and how you use them and that mistakes can result in getting your head kicked in.

If I am asked the meaning of a particular word by a student I will explain in private and caution them that the word is offensive.

But beyond that I just seek to raise awareness that text book English is not the same as colloquial English.
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Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3030
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Sep 04, 2006 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post, Neil. It certainly wouldn't always pay for students to appear too polite and cultured (in more lowbrow environments), and they shouldn't arrive in a foreign country totally unprepared for any crudity, possible racism etc that they might encounter.
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Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2006 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the company has sanctioned it, by all means teach the adult students to argue in forceful terms.

These guys are going to go to a foreign country and are going to be training the locals, right (i.e., telling the locals what to do--which no one wants to hear, and which is going to result in some disagreements)? And it's a factory environment, which is different from academia or even a board room. Swearing is okay. And even necessary, in order to maintain their authority.

I'm a mild-mannered teacher type, myself, and I don't generally swear. So I was actually kind of shocked when my non-native English speaker husband came home from his first job in the US and repeated work conversations full of swear words. "Um, is it really necessary to use the F word more than three times per sentence?" I asked naively. He laughed at me. He said only the native speakers do that--he only uses it occasionally himself. He's in the construction industry, and apparently even the otherwise sweet and gentle folks swear a blue streak while on the job. And if they don't, then they aren't taken seriously.

You don't have to teach the students all the swear words. And you don't have to teach them how to use them, especially if their pronunciation is so bad it won't sound forceful enough. But you should teach them the basics that pop up in disagreements. The F word and the S word especially.

And you should teach them a few disdainful (even if nonverbal) responses to any racial slurs. Teach them a few of the more common racial slurs referring to various Asian groups so they know what they're hearing. And also note that a lot of guys in such environments actually use racial slurs in a joking way, not intending deep offense but just to test if the listener has a sense of humor. The students should be aware that a different reaction is needed in such cases (i.e., maybe a "so's yo mamma!" --the guys on my husband's crew find Yo Mamma jokes endlessly amusing-- or a middle finger with a big smile instead of backing away in self-defense or reporting it to the manager). I don't know. It is a tricky subject, but it's also worth discussing with the students.

Best of luck to you!
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had a group of students request a course on bad language because they were being fooled by their co-workers and wanted to know what their children were saying as well. We had a list of words that we went through each lesson. The hardest thing I have ever had to do but they were grateful. I found teenagers in most countries think that teenagers in America swear all the time based on the movies. In Greenland, no one ever censured the students for swearing in English but in Danish or Greenlandic it was another matter. I did tell the students not to swear in front of me because I didn't like it as I was old and religious. I thought many of the older tourists wouldn't like it either and suggested that if they wanted to make money from the tourists, they might want to think about their words. When someone did swear, I would always make a joke of it until they understood that I really didn't like it. It did really frustrate me though that when the Danish teachers swore, it was usually in English. I would go and grab the huge Danish dictionary of swear words and ask them why they couldn't find something more appropriate in Danish so I wouldn't understand but they always said that the English words seemed to suit the situation better. I noticed that they began to look around to see if I was there before using them though or apologize. I always learn the swear words of any language I am trying to learn because the students will always try to teach you something you shouldn't say. In Greenland, they would bring me the picture of the little cartoon character and say, "Teacher, tell us who this is." Evidently Picachoo is a terrible word in Greenlandic. As I ride the bus a lot, I hear quite a few young people using swear words and always comment to say that it offends my English teachers heart to hear them use so few words to describe their anger, pain, etc. and provide them with a long list of words that they could use instead. That usually starts a lively conversation.
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John Hall

Joined: 20 Jan 2007
Posts: 31
Location: Costa Rica

PostPosted: Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Surprised nobody here has mentioned that series of textbooks called "Street Talk." They're EFL/ESL books that teach English slang and swear words. Pretty funny, too.

Regarding the need to learn such words, there used to be a well-known story in Japan about a young Japanese student who went to the U.S. to study English. The student was invited to a Halloween party, but got the address wrong. Upon approaching the door of the wrong house, somebody yelled, "Freeze!" The student apparently didn't know what that meant and just continued walking. Unfortunately, he died from the gunshot wound.
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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 59
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My two cents:
I also live and work in southern Germany. I have had no experience of business people wanting to learn how to curse, but many of the younger ones tend to say f*** when speaking GERMAN - it is acceptable to use this word in German: it's cool (any English word is cool) and sounds Germanic (nice fricative) but incomprehensible for any old fogies that might otherwise take offence because, you see, it is considered very vulgar or lower class by many Germans to use bad language.
I tell my students that understanding a joke in English is the first sign you're on the road to fluency, but learning to use bad language correctly (because it's not just the vocab but also the social context and register) is the final exam. I put my younger students off by imitating German youngsters 'dissing' one another in English (which you hear quite a bit if you stroll through the pedestrian zone on a Saturday afternoon). Doing complex finger movements and rolling from side to side like someone with the crotch of his jeans swinging between his knees and a baseball cap on backwards, I growl "Hey, mozzerfugger! Ich werde dich killen, vack you, mozzerfugger!"
In other words: nothing, but NOTHING, sounds stupider than English swear words with a bad German accent.
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