Ela G.
Community Tutor
Personal rules for "bad" language

I recently came across this article:


Which uses (and therefore teaches) swear words.The English translations are censored, but the Spanish (the language being taught in the article) are not.

I thought it was an unwritten rule, that you don't teach adult language (+slang) to beginners/intermediates.

It made me think about my own rules for learning/teaching "bad" words.

I would never teach swear words to a beginner who is interested in becoming fluent in my language.

But if you are not interested in learning and actually communicating in the language and are only curious about having fun, then I can teach you some funny adult language (I'm talking about foreign friends in real life, not here on Italki).

As for learning...

I avoid bad words, after unknowingly swearing in German when I was in elementary school (After watching too many episodes of "Cobra 11" (German police drama) instead of saying "Leise" I said.......something else).

What is your opinion on the matter?

May 5, 2018 1:17 PM
Comments · 7

Yes, I think you are right. A beginner should ideally know formal, polite English*. That way they can communicate all around the English speaking world without much problems. After that they will be independent, and can choose to learn no more or colloquial English or slang or swear words, depending on their preference.

*or, any language.

May 5, 2018
I've heard that many students ask to teach them swear words. It normal, even common I think. Interesting that in Russia one could be a master of swearing and people even could adore you for that (of course not arbitrary people, but your friends for example). The one could make very funny combinations and pronunciations of bad words. Maybe it's not only for Russia, I just recalled some of the US or UK comedians, as I understand they do quite a similar thing.
May 5, 2018

If adults want to learn swear words, that's their business. Adult, is the key word here. Of course, no one is obliged to teach them if they don't want to. As long as you are paying, you are in charge.

I have always had a strong suspicion that people who rail against cuss words are users of them. They just don't want to admit it on a public forum.

I've seen research that says cussing is a healthy activity from a mental health standpoint. But I have #@$$% no idea if that's true.

May 5, 2018
As I student, my personal rules for swear words is that I want to learn to understand them but not to use them.  I often use movies and TV series in my lessons.  So if a swear word is used that I do not understand, I expect that my teacher will try to explain it to me. I have had two refuse, telling me their philosophy that even speaking these words add negative energy.  In those few cases, I just ask a different teacher later who doesn´t have the same philosophy.  
May 5, 2018
I use bad language with friends daily, and it isn't always to swear sth, but to intensify sth. I learnt some basic swear words in German, but nothing really, really bad. In English yeah, I know more. I think it's important to know them in order to understand films and even some more informal conversations you may have. I'd teach some to some foreign who would like to know, but it's always some awkward atmosphere when I ask some to a native speaker of the language I'm learning. 
May 5, 2018
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Ela G.
Language Skills
Croatian, English, Hebrew, Russian, Serbian, Spanish
Learning Language
Russian, Spanish