Posts Tagged ‘colloquial English’


August 10, 2017

ESL lesson adv vocab school slang-2A geography teacher in Savannah, Ga (U.S.A.) gave his students a pop quiz on how they knew school slang of the past. The assignment was a Geography Jumpstart, probably not so much connected with geography proper, but teachers are always trying to find engaging ways to make it fun for students. One dialogue dating back to the 1990s was a street slang conversation between two “homeys” (=close friends):

“Yo, dog. I’m tired of getting punked by the popo for sportin’ my bling-bling. “ – “ True dat! You know they be trippin’ ‘cause our gear is da bomb. I mean all that and bag of chips with us.” Under the text a list of the slang idioms contained in it was given, and the students had to fill in a blank against each idiom with a corresponding “normal” word. Practically, all the students coped with the task: the 1990s were not distant past: yo – you, dog – man, punked – caught, popo – police, sportin’ – showing, bling-bling – jewelry, trippin’ – to overact or getting all bent out of shape over something small, gear – clothes; the bomb – something excellent, bag of chips – a friend (male/female) who “has it all” (is hot, athletic, has a sense of style and has a good personality).

The second dialog was from the 1980s. Only ten years “older”, the conversation was far less understood by the students. However, yours truly put his nose to the grind stone, looked up the slangy words in dictionaries, and here you are: the following text goes with the glossary.

“Like, do you see that barney over there? Can you believe that poser was even trying to talk to me? I mean, gag me with a spoon!” – “Like, for sure, what a dork! He’s like grodie to the max, and we are like bodacious babes. That’s like, really bogus.”

Like — with some teenage girls this word is spoken in between each word in a sentence; a barney – a despised person, socially awkward, boring, unstylish; a poser – who pretends to be someone he’s not; gag me with a spoon! – exclamation that describes displeasure on the part of the speaker due to something being distasteful or otherwise sickening; a dork – someone who has odd interests and who can be himself and not care what anyone thinks of him; grodie – nasty, gross, disgusting; bodacious – (predominantly used during the 1980s ) a combination of the words “bold” and “audacious.” To be bodacious is to be impressive, awesome, brave in action, remarkable, prodigious; bogus – unfortunate, unbelievable, opposite of “excellent.”

The above assignment happened to be uploaded on the Internet and went viral. Many parents said now they understood why American education was in such a dire state, they also said that their children should probably spend their class time doing something more useful and important. But there were also those who said the kids should get some “slang awareness.”

This morning I shared some articles on Facebook which show concern of both teachers and parents about how students speak. No secret that students’ future career may heavily depend on the impression they will produce during their job interviews, or when they go to universities, etc. Campaigns are launched which aim at abolishing certain “unparliamentary” (= rude and abusive) words from school. At some point even political celebrities (David Cameron among them) participated in such campaigns.

For all that, a lot of slang idioms were eventually adopted by the majority of language users and moved from the sphere of being “not appropriate in good contexts” to quite acceptable colloquial idioms. The following school slang is quite safe. You may enjoy it, just the same as the short test after the vocabulary definitions and examples (the key is at the bottom)


American English Slang – School And Studying

1.To “ace a test” is to get a very good grade.

How’d you do on the chemistry test?”

“I aced it!


2.If you “cram,” it means you study a lot in a short period of time.

“Are you going to the party tonight?”

“Nah, I have to cram for my history test.”


3.If you “cut class,” it means you don’t go to class.

“I’m gonna cut math class so that I can finish this project for biology.”

“OK. I’ll tell the professor you’re sick.


4.If you “drop a class,” it means you stop taking that class.

“I’m really stressed out this semester. I’m thinking of dropping a class.


5.To “hit the books” is to study.

“I gotta go hit the books. I have a final exam tomorrow.”

A “pop quiz” is a surprise quiz.

“We had a pop quiz in philosophy class today. I was completely unprepared!”

6.To “flunk” a test or a class is to fail.

“I’ve flunked economics three times.”

“Really? Maybe you should get a tutor.

If a person flunks so many classes that they stop going to school or college, we say they “flunked out.”


7.If you slack off, it means that you get lazy and don’t work hard.

“A lot of students start to slack off near the end of the school year.


8.“Dorm” is short for dormitory – the place where students live.

“How’s your dorm?

“It gets a little noisy on weekends, but in general I like it.”


9.The “quad” is a rectangular area surrounded by buildings on a college campus.

“Where’s Jenny?”

“She’s sunbathing out on the quad.


10.Many students gain weight when they start college. People often say that first-year students (freshmen) gain 15 extra pounds during their first year of school – this is called the “freshman 15.”

“I go to the gym every day so that I don’t gain the freshman 15.”


11.In high school and college, there are names for students in each year:

  • freshman= first-year student
  • sophomore= second-year student
  • junior= third-year student
  • senior= fourth-year student


  1. If someone has or gets a “full ride,” it means they have a scholarship that pays for 100% of their education.

“She got a full ride to the state university thanks to her good grades in high school.”


13.“Senioritis” is when students who are in their last year of college get lazy and stop working hard, because they know that they will finish their studies soon.

“Even the best students often get senioritis just before they graduate.”


  1. If you “pull an all-nighter,” it means you stay awake the whole night, usually studying.

“I had to pull an all-nighter to finish writing my paper for history class.”

  1. Frat” is short for “fraternity,” which is a social organization of male college students. The word for a social organization of female students is “sorority.” These organizations are often called by Greek letters, like Alpha Theta Chi or Kappa Delta, and members are called “brothers” and “sisters.”

“My brother joined a frat his first year of college to make new friends.”

  1. hang in there” – not to give up:“If you hang in there, you’ll get it!”
  2. busted” – caught :“My brother got busted for skipping class.”
  3. to bomb” – to fail, to do horrible: “I bombed the Chemistry quiz this morning.”
  4. “101” – a beginner’s course: “I’m in Spanish 101 this semester.”
  5. “busy work” – worksheets and activities that keep students busy: “Ms Anderson gives us tons of busy work.”
  6. cheat sheet” – a paper with information on it to help a person cheat on a test: “Eric made a cheat sheet for the exam because he was too lazy to study.
  7. A” – the best grade (mark): “I’ve got straight A’s on my report card.”



Question 1

“My ______ room was so small that my desk wouldn’t even fit.”

A  quad
B frat
C dorm
Question 2

“I drink about 10 cups of coffee whenever I have to ___________. It gives me energy.”

A pull an all-nighter
B ace a test
C join a frat


Question 3

“My son has _________ – I’m trying to find a way to motivate him.”

A senioritis
B hit the books
C gotten a full ride
Question 4

“I _______ all of my final exams!”


A crammed
B aced
C flunked


Question 5

“I think I only got two or three questions wrong on the __________.”

A pop quiz
B quad
C freshman 15
Question 6

“Stop ________ – turn off the TV and work on your philosophy paper.”

A slacking off
B acing
C cramming


Question 7

“We should really __________ – I think the tomorrow’s physics test is going to be tough.”

A get a full ride
B pop the quiz
C hit the books
Question 8

“Paul ________ so many times this semester that the professor forgot his name!”

A dropped class
B cut class
C pulled an all-nighter


Question 9

“My parents would kill me if I _________ of college.”

A pulled an all-nighter
B slacked off
C flunked out
Question 10

“It took me until my junior year to lose the ____________.”

A  pop quiz
B  freshman 15
C Frat


Question 11

“It’s not a good idea to put off studying until the last minute and then try to _______ the night before the test.”

A  ace
B  cram
C  flunk
Question 12

“You’re lucky you __________ – it means you’ll graduate without debt.”

A   cut the class
B pulled an all-nighter
C  got a full ride


KEY: 1C, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5A, 6A, 7C, 8B, 9C, 10B, 11B, 12C


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