Learning Australian Slang

When you come to Australia, you probably think you are going to learn English. In fact, you are going to learn Englishes! You will learn different varieties of English:

  1. A formal variety of English used in academic and business contexts (e.g. in cover letters, essays, presentations). This variety is used basically the same way all over the world.
  2. An informal, everyday variety of English used to interact with friends, family, colleagues, classmates, etc. There are some differences between, for example, American and British English.
  3. Australian English. This includes slang (read the post "Aussie Slang") – words and expressions which are unique to Australia.

Many students want to learn Australian slang and it is very useful. Slang helps you understand Australian people and culture and, if you’re careful, to interact in a more relaxed, natural way. However, you need to know which pieces of slang are current and relevant – this is the hard part. The best tool for learning Australian slang is AusEPhrase: http://www.e-phrase.com.au/ You can go to the website for free, download the app for $1.99, check out their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter. This tool was developed by Keturah de Klerk, an Australian TAFE teacher (go here for an ABC News article), and is based on actual research into the most common slang. The AusEPhrase app gives you:

  • a common piece of slang (‘I’m stuffed’)
  • the meaning (‘I’m tired’)
  • translations into Japanese, Korean and Arabic
  • an example sentence/context
  • a spoken example so you can hear it pronounced in an Australian accent
  • a chance to record yourself pronouncing it and compare it to the Australian accent

It also divides the slang into two useful categories: Social Phrases and Workplace Phrases. You can try out the ‘Phrase of the Week and ‘Test yourself’ features. So, if you want a simple tool for learning current and relevant Aussie slang, try AusEPhrase – you’ll be rapt cos I reckon it’s a bewdy!