Street Slang Makes Youths 'Unemployable'

By Nick Britten
The Telegraph - UK - 3-11-4

Terms like "fix up" and "what's gwan" may be popular on the street, but they are costing thousands of youths the chance of a job because they cannot speak English properly, according to education and business leaders.

2  The proliferation of street slang and text messaging has become so problematic that many youngsters are now "virtually unemployable".

3  While exam boards are reporting an increase in teenagers writing in "text", the verbal slang, made more popular by the likes of the comedian Ali G and rap artists such as So Solid Crew and 50 Cent, is exasperating businesses.

4  Nick Seaton, the chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said oral skills should be given as much emphasis in the classroom as reading and writing. Teachers should be more rigorous in correcting pupils' bad use of speech, he said.

5  "The key purpose of state education is to provide children of all backgrounds with a basic grasp of written and spoken English", he said. "If that is not happening, then the system is failing them."

Business leaders said employing someone who speaks poor English costs firms "time and effort" to bring them up to scratch.

7  Chris Clifford, a spokesman for the Confederation  of British Industry (CBI), said many bosses were having to pay for flaws within the education system. "What happens is employers have to start doing remedial training as a result of this," he said. "They are having to spend time and effort bringing people up to the level they would expect them to be at when they come out of the education system."

8 Gulfram Khan, the chairman of the Conservative Party in Aston, Birmingham, said the language barrier was costing youths jobs. "This means that they are either not getting jobs or getting the lowest form of menial work," he said. "A lot of them go to interviews and are completely unable to express themselves in that sort of situation. While they may fit in on the streets, in the workplace they stand out like a sore thumb. If you can't speak good English, how can you expect someone to give you a good job?"

© Telegraph Group Limited 2004.


par. 1
fix up = to prepare a heroin injection
what's gwan = what's going on
par. 3
is exasperating
: le sujet de is exasperating est the verbal slang, une ligne plus haut
par. 5
If that is not happening, then the system is failing them : then exprime ici la raison de ce qui est indiqué dans la proposition par if; traduction : Si..., c'est que...
employing someone who speaks poor English costs... : le sujet de costs est le groupe [employing  ... English]
par. 7
What happens is... : What signifie ici « ce qui »
the level they would expect them to be at : comprendre the level at which they would expect them to be



I - Quels sont les mots du texte synonymes de / Which words in the text are synonymous with

- young people =
- unfit for any job =

par. 1
- correctly =
- in the words of =
- the possibility of a job =

par. 2
- to cause problems =

par. 3
- committees =
- oral =
- companies =

par. 4
- abilities =

- oral expression = (one word)

par. 5
- goal =
- understanding =
- origins =

par. 6
- employers =
- companies =

par. 7
- representative =
- deficiencies =
- consequence =

par. 8
- president =


II - Trouver dans le texte l'équivalent anglais de / Find in the text the English equivalents for

- argot =
- jeunes (n) =

par. 1
- avoir du succès =
- une possibilité =
- convenablement, correctement =
- selon =

par. 2
- envoi de minimessages/textos/SMS =
- grave, sérieux =
- jeunes (n) =

par. 3
- alors que =
- commissions d'examens =
- adolescents (n) =
- langage texto, langage SMS =
- acteur =
- chanteurs de rap =
- entreprises (n) =

par. 4
- président =
- aptitudes =
- se voir accorder de l'importance =

- élèves =
- la langue parlée = (1 mot)

par. 5
- but principal =
- milieux sociaux = (1 mot)
- compréhension =
- faillir à ses devoirs envers = (1 mot)

par. 6
- chefs d'entreprise =
- mettre à niveau =

par. 7
- porte-parole =
- patrons =
- défauts, vices =
- à l'intérieur de = (1 mot)
- faire de la remise à niveau =
- mettre les gens à niveau =

par. 8
- soit... soit... =
- tâches subalternes =
- entrevues =
- si (marquant la concession) =
- faire tache =


III - Questions / Questions
a/ Is the title of the article (Street Slang Makes Youths 'Unemployable') entirely accurate as compared with the first line of paragraph 2?

b/ Give the byline and dateline of the article.

c/ What four words in the article are used by the journalist to designate young people?

c/ Nick Britten quotes two main factors accounting for teenagers speaking and writing poor English. What are they?

e/ "Street slang" has been made popular with youngsters by two particular categories of people. Can you name them?

f/ Do Nick Seaton and Chris Clifford blame mobile phone companies at all for the failure of youths to speak and write good English?

g/ Are British employers doing anything to remedy the problem?

h/ What particular situation is revealing of the inability of young people to speak proper English?


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© Christian Lassure - EFT
Le 21 avril 2007 / April 21st, 2007

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