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8.4: Speaking Strategies - Casual Speech versus Formal Speech

  • Page ID
    188583
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    “Hey, what’s up?”

    “How are you doing today?”

    Most people can probably identify which question above is the casual one. However, with the popularity of social media sites and blogs, casual speech is becoming more and more acceptable in formal settings. Even politicians and company CEOs have opted for a more casual tone in order to connect with the “average” customer or voter.

    It is important, therefore, to understand the different levels of not only English, but any language you speak. Whether you are fluent or just learning “survival language” skills for travel, it is best to know when to say what to whom. Casual language has the power to not only make you sound fluent, but it can make also help you make friends with local people, learn new idiomatic expressions and slang words, and blend into the culture more easily.

    This section is not meant to teach you informal speech. It is much too big of a topic to fit into this tiny section. Also, the chances are that you’re already familiar with informal language from friends, television and movies, and YouTube videos. This section is meant to help you think about the casual words and expressions that you know, and when and where they might help you make friends…and when and where they might help you make enemies.

    Casual language has a lot of benefits, but remember that it also has the power to offend your listener. Let’s practice our casual speech skills (not offending skills)!

    Speaking Activity

    Find one partner, and decide who will play the role of an average teenager and who will play the role of a high school teacher. Create a little script about not turning in homework, with the teenager using informal language and the teacher using formal language (Hint: If you need help with formal language, you could take a peek at the next unit). Next, act it out! After this role play is finished, switch roles! This time, the teacher is using casual speech and the student is the one who is using formal speech. Perform your play in front of the class, and then discuss the following: How did the conversations sound? Which part sounded stranger—a student trying to turn in an assignment using formal language or a teacher using casual language while not accepting it. What are some pros and cons of using casual speech in formal situations?


    This page titled 8.4: Speaking Strategies - Casual Speech versus Formal Speech is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Daniel Velasco.

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