Teaching Tips 73
Get hip to chav
Have a look at this. What is
being talked about?
|It was hip
in 1904, wizard in 1922, pissed off in 1943, sexy
in 1956, awesome in 1961 and ghetto fabulous in 1996.
This year it's chav.
They are the buzzwords from the
different years in British society which come from an article
published by the Guardian this week. Have a read:
David Ward, Tuesday October 19, 2004,
It was hip in 1904, wizard in
1922, pissed off in 1943, sexy in 1956, awesome
in 1961 and ghetto fabulous in 1996. This year it's
Every year has its buzzword ("a
word or expression from a particular subject area
that has become fashionable by being used a lot,
especially on television and in the newspapers")
and a new book lists 101 of them, one for every
year from 1904 until now.
Some, like tiddly-om-pom-pom (1909),
have gone into a tailspin (1917), while cheerio
(1914) has largely been demobbed (1920) from hip
Others live on, having turned up surprisingly
early: mobile phone in 1945, sacred cow in 1910.
The list has been compiled by Susie
Dent, a regular on Channel 4's Countdown, for her
new book Larpers and Shroomers: The Language Report
(Oxford University Press).
Ms Dent wants to provide a snapshot
of today's language and has included words she admits
may not stand the test of time.
"It is taking a fairly detailed
look at what is happening to language now without
worrying too much about whether these changes will
make an impact in six months' time," she said.
Chav is the noun which describes young
men who wear cheap gold jewellery and baseball caps
and hang around in shopping centres all over Britain.
The word is thought to have come from
the mid-19th century Romany word chavi, meaning
child, a explanation that seems unlikely if undeniably
cool (1948). "I think it's a really horrible
word, but it is quite a good example of a word that
has burst out on to the scene," Ms Dent commented.
"It is quite surprising in a way. It is one
of quite a few social class labels that have emerged."
The business world breeds buzzwords.
You can almost hear David Brent from The Office
drone on about dropping his pants (lowering the
price of a product to close a sale), moose on the
table (an issue no one wants to address in a meeting),
and a prawn-sandwich man (a corporate freeloader).
Ms Dent also predicts that suave metrosexual
man will be replaced by the scruffy retrosexual,
defined as spending as little time and money as
possible on his appearance.
Buzzword scholarship now has its own
website, managed by buzzwhackers (people "who
receive some degree of pleasure in bursting the
bubbles of the pompous") who maintain up-to-date
A larper, by the way, is someone involved
in the art of live action roleplaying and a shroomer
experiments with hallucinogenic fungi, whose effects
can sometime be psychedelic (1957) and may be seen
as a recreational alternative to a spliff (1936).
1904 to 2004
1906 teddy bear
1910 sacred cow
1915 civvy street
1925 avant garde
1927 sudden death
1928 Big Apple
1931 Mickey Mouse
1933 dumb down
1940 Molotov cocktail
1943 pissed off
1945 mobile phone
1949 Big Brother
1951 fast food
1952 Generation X
1959 cruise missile
1962 bossa nova
1977 naff all
1980 power dressing
1985 OK yah
1987 virtual reality
1993 having it large
1995 kitten heels
1996 ghetto fabulous
1998 text message
2000 bling bling
2002 axis of evil
2003 sex up
Compiled from Susie Dent's Larpers
and Shroomers: The Language Report (Oxford University
A wonderful list of words, isn't
it? It really does show a slice of the socio-cultural development
of Britain over the last hundred years. So what to do with
it in class?
With upper intermediate &
advanced classes, the text would provide an ideal reading
Begin as I did with the introduction,
the students guessing what 'it' is. If needed a quick review
of the language of present & past deduction would be
relevant. Then you could move to the first part of the article,
not the list of words. After verifying their predictions,
they could identify all of the buzzwords in the text, with
dictionaries on hand if needed.
Then on to using the list of
words & their dates. You could give a selection of words
that the students will probably know the meaning, ask them
to discuss the meanings in groups, clarifying for all in
their group, discuss when they might have appeared in British
life & then in the feedback compare their ideas with
the original list in the article.
Students could be asked if any
of the words are similar in their languages, which could
provoke a discussion on the internationalism of words &
the cultural events surrounding them.
Ask the students to think of
any buzzwords in their own languages with the year approximately
they appeared, they present them to the group, giving a
translation into English, & discussing why they appeared
then & if other language groups in the class had similar
buzzwords around the same time.
You could give some interesting
culturally relevant teacher talk by telling the students
about some of the vocabulary & why they came about at
that particular time. I'm sure it would make very interesting
listening practice for your students. This could be with
quite low levels, you telling them about the article &
giving out some of the obvious ones to discuss & the
go on to telling them about some others.
If you have any more ideas for
dealing with the text & the list of words, please post
for all in the Forums at:
(Talking of 'chav'...since coming
across this article, the following link popped up. It is
clearly for the chav in you. Without the neighbours noticing,
you can 'pimp your ride' - repaint the chav machine in gaudy
colours to attract other chavs, I presume. If you've got
way too much time on your hands...
It's Halloween soon & a link
to a selection of classroom ideas:
to the contents
A classic approach to dealing
with sound problems in class is to help students with problems
they have with 'minimal pairs'. These are words in a language
that differ from each other by only one distinctive sound
- one phoneme - & which also differ in meaning. eg.
'pit & 'pete', 'fit' & feet', 'hat' & 'hot'.
Different nationalities have different problem sound pairs,
for example the Spanish learner finds 'berry' & very'
As with any aspect of phonology
, the learner needs to actually hear the sound & then
discriminate, before going on to production. Here are some
activities to help your students tackle minimal pairs:
1. Say one of the pair &
move the sound into the other pair - i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:i:IIIIIIIII
- when the students hear the change they react by knocking
on their desks, raising their hand, raising their partner's
2. Dictate words & students
/i:/ - eat, feet, sleep, beat....
/I/ - fit, bit, sit, hit.....
3. Students think of a story
containing words with the minimal
/i:/ - lean, been, seen, keen....
/I/ - drink, think, fish, sin....
4. You read out sentences &
the students decide which of the minimal pair was in the
e.g 'They wanted to go out to eat.' Choice: it/eat
5. Using dialogues with lots
of examples of specific pairs.
6. Bingo - the cards consist
of minimal pairs instead of numbers. You read the first
one until someone shouts 'bingo!' & then hand the activity
over to the students.
7. Tongue twisters - 'She sells
sea shells on the sea shore' - 'nuff said.
8. Information gap maps - find
a simple map & tippex out the road names & then
fill them in with names containing the minimal pairs: Ship
St, Sheep St, Sheet St, Chat St, Chit St etc... Students
then ask & give directions.
9. Hear/Say activity - see
activity no 7
A lot of phonology work in the
classroom seems to be directed to working on minimal pairs
& although this is a useful area for some students,
I feel that now & then is a useful rule of thumb. Prominence,
tone units & tonal movement get my vote as worthy of
Here are a few links to sounds
on the site:
The phonemic chart
Some common sound problems &
to the phonemic chart
Online practice for your students
from About.com: http://esl.about.com/library/listening/bllistenminimal.htm
If you have any more ideas for
dealing with minimal pairs, please
post for all in the Forums at:
It's United Nations Day on October
24th & there are some lesson
ideas from a previous Tip at:
to the contents