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Should Slang Be Banned in Schools?

Essay by   •  June 12, 2015  •  Coursework  •  1,442 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,520 Views

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Spoken language is how us as humans, interact with each other. It is how we express our thoughts and feelings to others. A dominant figure of many peoples’ array of language is slang. Slang can be difficult to define as it is constantly changing, and everyone will have their own opinion as to the exact definition. However, experts seem to converge on a common perception; that slang is summed up as words that are not considered part of the standard vocabulary of a language, and that are used very informally in speech, especially by a particular group of people. This common notion has lead to some schools already, or considering the idea of, implementing a ban on the usage of slang words by their students.

Whilst some people deem slang to be an inaccurate use of language that will be seen as a negative in university and job interviews, others see it as a creative way for people to state their feelings, as long as students can distinguish between Standard English and slang, as well as when each form of language is appropriate. Obviously, this will create a sense of discrepancy amongst groups. This study will examine and evaluate the different views of people, such as spoken language experts, who may agree or disagree with the prohibition scheme.

Harris Academy in Upper Norwood is one school that has banned the use of slang to try and improve the standards of English of their students. MP David Lammy praised this move, despite the criticism it has received by others over social media as it is ‘an attack on culture’. “No one is saying slang is bad, but simply that it shouldn’t be the only way that one is capable of communicating” he told ‘The Independent’. Some teachers fear that pupils might no longer be able to make a clear distinction between Standard English and slang. They want their pupils to understand that slang is not appropriate at all times. Yet suppressing it in schools is not the solution that teachers should adopt in order to reach this goal. A number of educators are convinced that letting ‘slang’ enter the school premises will, on the contrary, help adolescents perfect their English. Elsa Russell, a teacher from Connecticut, wrote an article in the ‘The English Journal’ in which she explained how she introduced a lesson on ‘slanguage’ to her year nine English class. Russell instructed her pupils to submit a chart in which they would write down slang words and expressions they make use of on a daily basis. Then, they were asked to give their equivalent in ‘good’ English. This was an exercise that caught the attention of her students immediately because the class was obviously much more interested as it involved their ‘communal language’ rather than Standard English. In this regard, we can assess that, by acknowledging the nature of slang – instead of banning it – in educational contexts, pupils will be able to distinguish between Standard English and slang more effectively.

In transcript B, this is clear to see. The student uses the words “soz miss” when talking to his teacher, which would be classed as a formal situation where slang is not appropriate. However, after hesitation, the student then corrects himself off his own back when he says “sorry Mrs Jones, that wasn’t appropriate language to use in this situation”. The student has recognised his incorrect usage, and corrected it without instruction, demonstrating his understanding of when slang is inappropriate. He was likely to use the word “soz”, slang for ‘sorry’ as he had just entered the room, possibly after socializing with his friends, and had not fully adjusted back from the slang he would be using. But if this was not the case, it also backs up Harris Academy’s’ point of students not knowing what type of language is appropriate, which is important for interviews in later life. Although, it really depends on the school; a school from the television program ‘Educating Essex’, which focuses on children with a rougher background, should maybe consider putting a ban on slang for the education purposes of the children. However a private grammar school, with more educated students, maybe should not as the children are already capable of switching between slang and Standard



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