- Should ESL Teachers Introduce Bizarre, Odd, and Funny Expressions in the Classroom Setting?
- The Longest Words In The English Language
- Unusual English Words and Expressions from the UK
- Weird English Words and Expressions Used in the United States
- Bizarre English Expressions and Words from Canada
- Odd English Expressions and Words Used in Australia
"I'm always out looking for weird, beautiful things." -Pam Houston
According to an estimate conducted in 2017, over 1.5 billion of the world's population speaks English; that's 20% of the 7.5 billion people on earth! Nevertheless, it is essential to state that the majority of those who are fluent in English are not native speakers. Between 330 and 360 million speakers are native making it the third largest language by number of native speakers after Mandarin and Spanish.
English is a global language that can be widely-spoken and understood across the seven continents. It is very rare to meet someone who has no previous knowledge of English. From television shows, movies, songs, and classes taught at school, everyone knows a few words of English such as 'Hello', 'Sorry', 'I love you', and 'Where's the bathroom?'
English has such a far-reaching influence that it has been adopted as the language for business, work and communications worldwide.
It is important to state that the popularity of English has led to a massive demand for ESL teachers; people want to speak the international language!
Opportunities to teach English language learners abroad in ESL programmes are plentiful. Many hiring agencies, companies, and schools often share the most significant requirement for being hired. What is that? That the English language teacher has completed an accreditation such as the Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or TESOL certificate programme and has some experience teaching English tuition.
However, it is important to mention that in many countries around the world native language writing skills or stellar literacy abilities can also get you a job on the spot in many highly qualified schools or tutoring centres; which becomes an excellent opportunity to gain experience and see if teaching is your calling!
In today's article, Superprof will analyse some of the most bizarre and most extended English words and expressions from different English-speaking countries around the world that ESL teachers help their students try to understand.
Are you an English learner ready for a weird ride through the English language? I sure hope so!
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Should ESL Teachers Introduce Bizarre, Odd, and Funny Expressions in the Classroom Setting?
To start things off it is essential to state that ESL teachers conduct English language classes in a way to support their students to master their listening, speaking, and reading and writing skills so that they may correctly acquire language proficiency. ESL teachers dissect the English language to provide learners with a thorough understanding. Nevertheless, despite how talented the class is the complexities of the English language prove to be difficult for some; this will be especially true for language students with limited English skills.
Like all foreign languages, English vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, and expressions have some unique terms and meanings that may look very weird to a learner who does not speak English as his first language. Furthermore, it is essential to state that some odd phrases and words are not used in conventional communication but are very heavily inculcated in the language and culture of English-speaking countries such as the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada.
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Now the question arises for ESL teachers, should bizarre English expressions and words be taught during classes to students who are learning English as a second language?
The answer is an overwhelming YES!
Instead of viewing teaching funny or unusual words as a roadblock, ESL teachers are wise to introduce funny, weird and strange expressions to English language beginners to enhance language skills, the learning experience, prevent boring and overly intensive learning sessions, and finally, make language instruction more memorable.
While knowing weird English words is not a requirement on a final exam or a necessary step to becoming fluent in English, it would be a great mistake not to introduce some in ESL classes since they provide a great laugh that helps classmates bond and cultivate a mutual love for the English language.
The language learner should bear in mind that depending on which English-speaking country you visit or live in, the terminology will change. For example as a native English speaker from Canada, even when I hear Australians, Brits, or Americans speak, I catch funny phrases that make little sense to me but are accepted in the local area; the words used in specific areas can be categorised as slang, idioms, expressions, words or phrases.
Since the English language has had such a far-reaching influence, certain expressions and accents are bound to be different from one place to the next. Nevertheless, ESL teachers should embrace the wackiness of English and teach their students to love the odd expressions used in each English-speaking country.
All ESL teachers should remember that diversity is the spice of life and no one wants to learn a language without a little fun!
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The Longest Words In The English Language
"Long words and complex sentences are intended to add importance to something unimportant." -Jack Mabley
When first learning a new language, long words are terrifying. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that in all foreign languages all around the world, there are concise words such as ‘I’ or ‘a’, and there are unavoidably long words that are a headache to write.
The average primary or secondary school teacher working with international students in cross-cultural education programmes wouldn’t introduce long and unusual words as they would surely intimidate an international student who possesses English as a second language.
The best ESL teachers surely know that the best strategy when educating students who speak languages other than English as a mother tongue is to ease them into the language slowly with short words to help them gain essential skills and confidence without getting too discouraged in the beginning.
However, today we are going to introduce curious ones to the longest words that can be observed in the English language. Thankfully, it is important to mention that these words are not mandatory to learn English and will not be a part of any ESL student's first English classes since they are not used in everyday verbal communication nor while reading or writing. But let's have a little fun and analyse the following overwhelmingly long words featured in the English language:
- Antidisestablishmentarianism: one of the longest words highlighted in the Oxford dictionary, it practically uses almost all of the letters in the alphabet and is 28 letters long. The definition? It means to be against a movement of the separation of church and state. It's easier to describe than it is to read!
- Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis: is a medical word that is probably used by no doctor. What does it mean? Well, the word is 45 letters long and can be understood as a type of lung disease.
- Floccinaucinihilipilification: this word is 29 letters long and is defined in many dictionaries as something that has no value. Wouldn't it just be easier to say 'worthless'? I love English!
- Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch: is one of the longest words to be found in the UK. It is 58 letters long and is a place in Wales. To make this word sound easier for citizens residing in Wales and other parts of the UK, it is usually abbreviated to Llanfair PG.
- Gorsafawddacha'idraigodanheddogleddollônpenrhynareurdraethceredigion: doesn't this word look like someone fell asleep on their computer and nosedived onto the keyboard? It's so long that your eyes hurt after reading. What's the meaning of this fantastically long word? Well, this word is 63 letters long and is the name of a Welsh train station in the United Kingdom. According to Wikipedia, in 2007 the name was changed to Golf Halt station; probably to avoid delays from having to say “you have now arrived in Gorsafawddacha'idraigodanheddogleddollônpenrhynareurdraethceredigion", and then a few minutes later having to say “you are now leaving Gorsafawddacha'idraigodanheddogleddollônpenrhynareurdraethceredigion.”
If you thought the five previously mentioned words were mind-boggling, the next word is going to blow your socks off! So the last weird and long word has a countless amount of letters and is a medical term and a technical word which details the DNA of a virus. Want to know what is it? The following is the longest word in the English language:
As a native speaker of English, even I require some special education or at least some tutoring by a highly qualified English language teacher to learn to read those words. So I hope that brings a smile to your face to know that it is not necessary to memorise the previously stated words since you will most likely never have to say, read or write these significant words. If you tried, you would probably make lots of mistakes in English that will discourage you from continuing to acquire fluency.
Now, what about unusual words and expressions? In the following subheadings, we will consider the most bizarre words and phrases used in the largest English-speaking countries of the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Unusual English Words and Expressions from the UK
The UK is home to approximately 60 million of the 330-360 million native English speakers. Home to the dialect of 'British English', citizens of the UK utter words and expressions that are truly unique to the culture of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Without further ado, we will consider some of the most unusual words and expressions currently and previously used in the United Kingdom.
The following are the most bizarre words that are said by UK-citizens:
- Kerfuffle: a word is adopted from Scottish and Irish that can either means what is all of the fuss about or why is it so noisy. Ex: What is all the kerfuffle? It sounds like a word a baby would say, but many UK citizens use it in everyday situations.
- Ragamuffin: a word from the middle ages that might not be thoroughly understood all over the UK since it is very ancient. Nevertheless, a ragamuffin is a person who is wearing rags or dirty clothes. People would say this word when talking about people who are scruffy or poorly dressed. Ex: Tuck your shirt into your trousers, you look like a ragamuffin.
- Gibberish: a widely recognised word that is commonly used today in the UK and is pure joy to say! It means unintelligent or unintelligible speech or writing, utter nonsense. Ex: That man over there only speaks gibberish.
The following are some of the most complex, funny, and odd expressions uttered by UK citizens:
- Take the biscuit: a strange phrase that is used if someone has done something extraordinarily irritating or surprising. Ex: I could deal with road noises at 5:30 in the morning, but the lawnmower at 3 in the morning takes the biscuit.
- Bee's Knees: signifies something extremely great or cool; the best of the best. Ex: The Rolling Stones are the bee's knees.
- A few sandwiches short of a picnic: an expression that describes a person who is not the smartest and might lack common sense. Ex: My friend is great, but she's a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
Weird English Words and Expressions Used in the United States
Of all official English-speaking countries, the United States is the one that boasts the most native speakers with over 258 million according to recent estimates. Therefore, 'American English' is the most widely spoken and recognised dialect of English.
Consequently, since various Americanisms can be analysed, we will consider the strangest words and expressions used by citizens of the United States.
The following are the strangest words used by Americans that are not widely recognised elsewhere:
- Zonked: a word that means extremely tired or exhausted. Ex: I was zonked after last night's party.
- Sneakers: called tennis shoes or running shoes in other English-speaking countries, sneakers is a word commonly said by Americans. Ex: My sneakers are very dirty after yesterday's run.
- Sweet: while in many places this word means something high in sugar, in the US 'sweet', is said continuously by young ones to refer to something brilliant or cool. Ex: That jump you took snowboarding was really sweet.
- Gobbledygook: a word that originates from the USA and is inspired by the sound a turkey makes. It is synonymous with 'gibberish' and practically means something nonsensical and unintelligible. Ex: Financial terms are gobbledygook for me.
Americans have their fair share of expressions, and the following are the most common:
- A foot in the door: this expression is not literal; it does not mean to have your foot blocking an entry; however, it does refer to having an introduction or a way into something. Americans usually use this expression in the context of career development. Ex: Mike has got his foot in the door with that company.
- As easy as pie: it is no secret that Americans love their sweets, so much so that they even have expressions about pies, cakes, and candy. The expression 'easy as pie' refers to something straightforward or without complications; Mark Twain used it in his beloved novel 'Huckleberry Finn.' Ex: That game was as easy as pie.
- Take a rain check: does this expression have anything to do with the weather? Of course not, its only a phrase that should not be taken literal and means to politely refuse a request or invitation until the opportunity presents itself again. Ex: I can't go over for dinner tonight, but let's take a rain check.
Bizarre English Expressions and Words from Canada
Canada is the largest English-speaking country in terms of area but only boasts 19 million native English speakers from its population of 35 million; this is a result of the fact that many Canadians are native French speakers.
While many outsiders view Canada and the United States as two peas in a pod, Canada has its wide variety of strange words and expressions that are not comprehended by Americans and can only be understood by Canadian citizens.
We will now examine some of the most unusual words and phrases uttered by Canadians daily.
The following are funny and unique words that are Canadian:
- Eh: probably the most famous Canadian word that is recognised on the international stage. What does it mean? It's hard to describe because it is often used at the end of sentences to create an actual question that welcomes a polite reply. For example, 'It's a beautiful day' is a generic statement that can be turned into a question with the word 'eh', 'It's a beautiful day, eh?' Understand? Good, let's move onto other crazy Canadian words.
- Loonie: one of the most ridiculous words ever used to describe currency, Loonie is a Canadian word used to describe a one-dollar coin; it is called this because it has a picture of a loon. Also, to complicate things even more, a toonie is a two-dollar coin in Canada since Canadians like words that rhyme. Crazy, eh? Ex: I have a loonie in my pocket.
- Tuque: what is that? A tuque is a knitted hat that is used to keep your head warm during winter. Many Canadians do not realise that this word is not used outside of Canada. Ex: I wore my tuque to go skiing.
The following are ridiculously funny Canadian expressions that will confuse any ESL student:
- Canadian tuxedo: it's not as fancy as it seems, a Canadian tuxedo is when a guy or girl is wearing jeans, and they slap a jean jacket on top of whatever shirt they are wearing. Classy, right? Ex: Your girlfriend is rocking a Canadian tuxedo today.
- Double double: frequently uttered at Canada's most famous coffee shop, Tim Hortons, a double double means double the cream and double the sugar. Ex: Can I get a double double, please?
Odd English Expressions and Words Used in Australia
Oceania features two predominantly English-speaking countries, Australia and New Zealand. However, in today's article, we will primarily focus on Australia. The land down under has over 25 million native English speakers and is one of the most recognisable members of the Commonwealth.
We will now consider some of the weirdest and oddest words commonly uttered by citizens of Australia.
The following are the most unusual words said by Aussies that make ESL learners question the English language:
- Barbie: not a plastic doll young girls love to play with, a Barbie is an Australian word for barbecue. Ever heard someone make fun of Aussies by saying 'Let's put some more shrimp on the Barbie?' Ex: Let's have a barbie this afternoon.
- Bogan: a word commonly used in Australia that describes someone who is known as a 'redneck.' Friends also use it amongst themselves when one of them is acting weird. Ex: That man over there is a significant bogan mate.
- Gnarly: a word that can be heard on the beaches of Australia; it means fantastic, brilliant, or excellent. Ex: That wave was super gnarly mate.
The following few phrases are strange and practically unrecognisable for native speakers who live outside Australia:
- Having a whinge: say what? Used to complain about something; Australians usually enjoy 'having a whinge' about the weather or their boss. Ex: What are you having a whinge about mate?
- You little ripper: a lovely expression that is uttered by Aussies in pure joy when something significant happens. What situations call for saying this phrase? Your horse just won the race, your last class at university was cancelled, or you find our great news. Ex: Good job you little ripper.
In conclusion, learning more about weird English words and funny expressions can be an excellent way to study when you feel you need a break from your traditional grammatical English language development. Most of these expressions and words mentioned in today's article are surprisingly uttered by native English speakers around the world.
I hope this article has been instructional for students who are non native and want to achieve English proficiency. Language learning can be a thrilling and sometimes bizarre experience for multicultural ESL students when eccentricities about the language are exploited; who knew second language acquisition could be so entertaining?