School Slang

This lesson plan is designed to teach some basic school slang. Students have often been exposed to slang or at least seen movies and TV shows about high school with slang. So they will appreciate this lesson. Not all the terms here are technically slang. Students who plan to study in the US need to know freshman, sophomore, detention. So this lesson also goes over some of those terms.


Although this lesson is designed to teach US school culture, it could easily be adapted for any other culture or country.


Before students arrive I put the School TermsSchool Terms up on the board. Then I go over the terms by category, trying to prompt students to tell me what they mean or to guess. If students live in the US, this should go pretty quickly. Likewise if they have watched a lot of American movies set in high schools, they should be pretty quick to catch on. Otherwise, most of these terms may be completely unfamiliar to them and this can take a while. To make it a bit more interesting, I ask them if they have a similar term (or in the case of traditions, if they have something similar) in their school or language. When we talk about discipline, I ask them how teachers discipline them at their school. And so on. If they have been to the US, or are well-versed in movies, I might ask them to describe prom or homecoming. This part can generate a lot of questions about schooling in the US, particularly if your students are school-aged. So be ready! Alternatively, you may want to hold off on discussion until after the lesson.
Note: nerd, geek, jock, and preppie can be very hurtful terms. For younger students, I wouldn’t teach these terms. You probably want to be careful to point out that these are stereotypes or social groups but not absolute types.

I also always teach them that sophomore comes from the Greek word sophia meaning wisdom and the word moron. They get a kick out of that. If there’s a class clown, I call him sophomoric and see how he reacts.

Alternative Way to Teach Vocab

Another great way to teach vocab that some students may know and others may not is to make flash cards of each word and hand them out to students in small groups. In each group, students look at the words and make 3 piles of words: 1) words that they know, 2)words that they don’t know, 3) words that they think they know but aren’t sure. In this way, students who know a word will teach it to the others. Now make pairs of the small groups (i.e. two small groups together in one larger group). They test each other on the words that they know. In this way, again, the students are teaching other new words and reinforcing the words that everyone knows. Now hopefully the pile of words they know is a bit bigger.
Finally each student picks a word he or she doesn’t know or isn’t sure of (and no one in their groups knew either) and asks the class as a whole. If no one knows the word, then you as the teacher can step in.

After they have looked at these words, I hand out or draw on the board the illustrated slang [JPG] worksheet. These terms and some of the inspiration for the pictures comes from
The Slangman Guide to Street Speak 3

I ask the students to try to guess what the term means from the picture and then use it in a sentence.


Once we have gone through the vocab, I hand out the Sample Dialogue. Have the students go through it individually and underline the slang terms in it. Then ask two students to read it as is. Now, I ask two different students to read it out loud, but to ‘translate’ the slang into normal English. For example, if the first line of dialogue is: “Hey, look at these freshmen, trying to cram for the final.” They might say: “Hey, look at these first year students (or ninth year students) trying to study very hard in a short period of time for the end of the year examination that tests them on everything they learned in that class.”

Finally I have the students write their own dialogues in pairs or small groups using as much slang as possible. This can also be a good homework assignment. After each group reads their dialogue, I correct any mistakes or mis-usages: ‘I did an all-nighter’ or ‘I am an ace on the test’.

As a fun review for next class, you can play Word Bingo and I made the following A href=”/wp-content/uploads/Wordbingo.pdf”>Word Bingo [PDF] sheets at, which is an awesome resource.
Note: I decided to develop my own pictures because 1) sometimes I put the pictures up on the board and I can’t draw the detailed pictures from Slangman. If you have a transparency projector or a computer projector, you could easily scan and print or project the images from Slangman. 2) The pictures there are great, but I like to have the kids try to guess the meaning from the pictures and some of the pictures are a bit obscure. 3) I didn’t want to include all the terms in Slangman 4) I didn’t think all the terms in Slangman were slang and thus wanted to cover them in the first part of the lesson.

However, Slangman is a great book and it has some great activities in it as well. I highly recommend it.

If you are the copyright holder to the Slangman books and there are any copyright issues with my pictures, please let me know.

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