You’re up-to-date on all the trends.
You watch trending hashtags obsessively.
You know all the latest fashions.
You’ve even single-handedly kept avocado farmers in business with your affinity for avocado toast.
But there’s one trend you may have overlooked: slang.
When you’re learning a language, staying on top of the latest slang can be a bit of a trick. After all, conventional courses usually only cover common, basic slang and often shy away from more colorful words and expressions altogether.
There’s no doubt that slang is pervasive in any language, and it’s possible you haven’t learned some of the more provocative terms native speakers might use.
Not only that, but as a language learner, you’ll have to keep the variations within your target language straight. For instance, Spanish slang, Mexican slang and slang from other Spanish-speaking countries varies quite a bit.
So how, then, can the trendy language learner possibly stay on top of the best slang in different languages? Luckily, there are plenty of great resources out there to keep your vocabulary up-to-date. Here are 30 books and websites that make learning slang a piece of cake!
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Why Focus on Slang?
Slang is a type of informal language you won’t typically find in a textbook but is absolutely vital to clear communication. So while it may not be the first area of language you study, you should jump into it relatively quickly.
The primary reason to learn slang is that it’s overwhelmingly common. In any culture, there are an abundance of slang words and more being added periodically. If you’re studying English and you’re not keeping up, terms like “throw shade” or “on fleek” will go right over your head! Therefore, if you ignore it, you’re ignoring a significant part of your target language’s vocabulary.
Additionally, using slang can make you sound like a local. A lot of native speakers expect non-native speakers to sound unnatural due to their strict adherence to what they’ve learned from conventional textbooks. Using slang can set you apart and show you’re so much more than a common language student.
Finally, slang is often difficult to understand if you haven’t studied it. If you don’t make it part of your learning routine, you might not be able to figure out what these words mean based on context alone, and your fluency will suffer. You’re also more likely to miss some important parts of a conversation.
The Best Resources to Learn Slang in Different Languages
It’s important to note that slang is highly regional, so not all slang will be used in every place that speaks the language. If you’re targeting a particular region, you might try looking for slang from that specific region.
Here are some groovy resources for learning slang from popular languages.
And for help in all these languages, check out FluentU! You can switch between them as you wish if you’d like to learn more than one language at a time.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
With FluentU, you hear languages in real-world contexts—the way that native speakers actually use them. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions and exercises. Just swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're studying.
The program even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes store or Google Play store.
Arabic slang is cool. If you want to look fab in Arabic, try Cool Slang Arabic Dictionary. This free website offers slang from all over the Arab-speaking world.
Each entry includes the Arabic word or phrase, how to pronounce it, where it’s from and what it means. While this is a very useful tool, it’s important to keep in mind that entries are submitted by users, so there could be occasional errors. Be sure to do a little research and verify terms in a language forum or with a language exchange partner.
Dialects of Arabic vary quite a bit regionally, so it should come as no surprise that slang also varies a good deal by region. “A Roving Eye” focuses exclusively on Egyptian Arabic. The book includes common colloquialisms, including proverbs, idioms and other expressions.
Each phrase is presented in Arabic along with a transliteration to help you with pronunciation. There’s also a literal English translation as well as a figurative translation. The book features many images, making it easy to browse casually.
“Levantine Colloquial Arabic Vocabulary” focuses on colloquial expressions from Lebanon. However, many of these expressions are also understandable in other parts of the Levant region, including Jordan, Palestine and Syria. The book is intended for beginning through advanced students and offers over 4,500 entries in 57 thematic categories.
Entries contain grammatical information to help you understand gender, usage and more. Plus, the purchase of this book also grants you access to free downloads, including MP3 audio to help you nail down pronunciations and Anki flashcards to help you memorize vocabulary.
If Chinese slang is your drug of choice, China Smack is the free online resource for you. That’s because this website offers a helpful glossary of Chinese slang.
Each entry includes the slang word or phrase, the pinyin (when applicable), the part of speech and the definition. Entries include internet slang, offensive words and phrases, as well as some general vocabulary.
“Dirty Chinese” focuses on the Chinese words and phrases that conventional schooling usually strategically omits. These expressions include swear words, adult terms, insults and more. Phrases are grouped thematically for easy browsing.
Each entry starts with the English phrase, followed by the pinyin, followed by the Chinese written text. Some of the terms are graphic, so “Dirty Chinese” isn’t for anyone who’s easily offended.
“Niubi!” (“Awesome!” is one translation for it…others are less appropriate) offers a wide array of words and phrases for slang aficionados of all ages, though it‘s aimed at beginning and intermediate learners.
Yes, some words and phrases are more appropriate for adults, including sex terms and swear words, but many expressions are used across age groups, like internet slang. Illustrations, anecdotes and cultural lessons make “Niubi!” an easy and fun read.
Sure, it might not have elves or dwarves like you’d expect in other magical realms, but Language Ream does offer a free online French slang dictionary, which seems pretty magical if you ask us.
The entries are organized alphabetically by the French term. Each entry includes the French word or phrase, the part of speech and the definition. Some terms are family-friendly, while others are more appropriate for adult learners.
If you think inappropriate and offensive language is très bon (very good), “Dirty French” might be just the book to add to your slang library.
It features curse words, sex terms, insults, everyday slang and more. Words are grouped thematically, so you can easily peruse such categories as “Hello” to see all your slang options at a glance. “Dirty French” also includes some brief usage notes interspersed throughout.
“French Slang” offers over 600 entries of contemporary French slang organized into 12 thematic sections. Helpful slang includes textspeak, descriptions and more.
Some entries are completely innocent and family-friendly, while other words and phrases are “slightly provocative”—not too over-the-top, but certainly intriguing to adult learners. Downloadable audio is also available to help learners perfect their pronunciations.
If you’re a savvy German student, Street Talk Savvy is the free online resource you need to expand your slang vocabulary. It offers up a variety of German slang, including funny sayings, pick-up lines, tongue twisters, drinking songs and more. There are also sections for Swiss German and Austrian German slang if you need a more well-rounded education in German slang.
“Dirty German” offers fun, informal phrases perfect for adult learners (particularly those with potty mouths). The book includes insults, sexual terms, swear words and more. Words and phrases are grouped thematically. Fun usage notes appear throughout the text, making “Dirty German” easy to read for fun or use as a reference.
While this book isn’t the most current volume on our list (it was published in 1994), it still offers some helpful vocabulary—just don’t expect textspeak or internet slang. “Scheisse! The Real German You Were Never Taught in School” focuses on “Low German,” like curse words, insults and other basic slang.
And you’ll have to get the book to find out the meaning of the word Scheisse!
Words are grouped thematically for easy browsing. Entries offer a unique format—the English word appears first, followed by several German slang options with a related meaning. Many of these options are also accompanied by a brief definition to clarify the more precise meaning.
Looking for the best Japanese slang? Unafraid of inappropriate terms? Language Realm is great for anyone looking to learn Japanese slang, and best of all, it’s available for free from the comfort of your favorite internet-enabled device.
Each entry includes the Japanese word, its transliteration and its meaning. Many words/phrases are family friendly, but there are definitely some that are strictly for adults, like sexual terms.
“Dirty Japanese”—given that the Japanese have long been known for their exceptional cleanliness, the phrase may seem ironic. But if you’re a Japanese student who likes your language skills to have a certain edge, “Dirty Japanese” fits the bill.
With sexual words, curse words and insults galore, “Dirty Japanese” provides the sort of vocabulary you’re unlikely to find in your favorite textbook.
“Beyond Polite Japanese” offers both contemporary and traditional slang that many textbooks leave out. With over 500 words and phrases, there’s plenty of great slang for any interested student of Japanese.
Plus, “Beyond Polite Japanese” empowers you to understand even more slang by teaching prefixes and suffixes commonly used in slang. Each word/phrase entry contains a lot of useful information, including the word/phrase, its part of speech, its literal and figurative definitions, and a usage example. While the book is difficult to find new, plenty of used options abound.
If you like your Korean slang cool, look no further. Cool Slang is a free online resource featuring dozens of Korean words and phrases. Each entry includes the Korean word, its transliteration and its meaning.
Many entries also include some discussion from users about the meanings. While Cool Slang offers some great content, it’s important to remember that it’s user-generated, so errors may appear from time to time.
“Dirty Korean” offers up edgy Korean slang, including insults, sexual terms, swear words and more. The book is presented in an easy-to-read format, with words/phrases grouped thematically.
Additional notes on language and usage make “Dirty Korean” accessible for any level of language learner. Each entry comes with the Korean word/phrase, its transliteration and its meaning for your ease and convenience.
“The KPOP Dictionary” is a book built for fans of Korean entertainment. Whether you enjoy K-Pop music, indulge in Korean dramas or can’t resist Korean movies, “The KPOP Dictionary” will supply you with some key slang you need to better understand your favorite pastime and connect with other fans.
The book offers over 500 words and phrases. Each entry includes the word or phrase, its transliteration, its definition, a description of how it’s used and an example to illustrate its usage.
Countries Beginning with I is a website dedicated mostly to—you guessed it—countries that start with “I.” Among its varied (and free) offerings, there’s a handy dictionary of Italian slang and swear words.
It’s organized alphabetically, so it’s easy to look up any word or phrase you encounter. Each entry is accompanied by a pronunciation guide and a brief definition and/or explanation.
In the dark alleys of Rome lurks a language even experienced Italian students don’t know. And gelato shops. There are a lot of gelato shops. But if it’s the unfamiliar Italian language you’re looking for, “Dirty Italian” has lots of cuss words, insults, sex terms and more to steal some of your focus from your beloved icy treat.
Since the book also has a handy pronunciation guide and frequent usage notes, it’s an easy and enjoyable read for any aficionado of the Italian language. Just try not to drip any gelato on it.
Not the formal type? “What They Didn’t Teach You in Italian Class” offers plenty of informal slang that you can use in multiple settings.
Vocabulary is grouped thematically, including sections like “Booze, Bars, & Clubs” and “Smack Talk.” The book also includes some explanations on basic pronunciation and grammar rules, so it’s accessible to beginning learners as well as more advanced students.
ProZ offers a free online Portuguese-to-English slang glossary. Each entry contains the Portuguese phrase and its English meaning.
For additional explanation, just click the Portuguese phrase. There are both family-friendly and adult entries.
“Dirty Portuguese” has all the fun swear words, insults and sex terms that you’ll probably need to offend people and/or be offended. There are also a number of helpful, less offensive slang options.
A quick pronunciation guide will help even beginning learners nail down the pronunciation. From there, the book is organized thematically, so you can easily browse slang in any category. Humorous explanations and usage examples are staggered throughout, making reading “Dirty Portuguese” a fun experience.
“Party Brazil Phrasebook 2014” was intended to teach Brazilian slang to anyone attending the 2014 World Cup. The competition may be over, but the slang isn’t!
The slang in the book is primarily related to Brazil, partying and soccer. The book also includes a pronunciation guide for novice speakers. Additionally, there are extensive cultural notes to teach you about Brazilian cities, customs and soccer.
If you want to open yourself up to a wide world of Russian vocabulary that would make a babushka (elderly woman, grandmother) blush, look no further than Russki Mat. This free website features over 1700 colorful entries.
The focus is mostly obscene slang normally not fit-for-print, including profanity and slurs. Each entry contains the Russian word/phrase, its gender (when applicable), its pronunciation, its meaning and a usage example.
If you don’t want your vocabulary to be as clean as fresh Russian snow, “Dirty Russian” offers just the roughing up you need. “Dirty Russian” features curse words, insults, sex terms and more—just the sort of stuff you’ll want to know after having a few shots of vodka.
Plus, “Dirty Russian” offers brief pronunciation and grammar lessons to equip even beginners to use the book to its maximum potential. Each word/phrase includes the English meaning, the Russian phrase and a pronunciation guide. There are also helpful usage notes and examples staggered throughout.
Advanced Russian students might like “Dictionary of Advanced Russian Usage.” This book is a thorough guide to slang, idioms and colloquialisms.
It’s formatted as a reference tool more than a readable text, but when you need to look up a slang word, you’ll have plenty of information at your finger tips. “Dictionary of Advanced Russian Usage” is meant to be highly comprehensive.
Want to get the gritty Spanish practice you can’t get in a classroom? Gritty Spanish is a website that has your back if you’re looking to learn conversational, colloquial Spanish. It includes downloadable audio dialogues along with corresponding printed text to help you get both listening and reading practice while preparing you to sound more like a native speaker.
Unlike most conventional dialogues, Gritty Spanish offers options that include curse words and provides the sort of practice that’s hard to get without diving headfirst into a real conversation. And let’s be honest: do you really want your first experience with Spanish swear words to be in a real conversation?
“Dirty Spanish” dishes up inappropriate slang like swear words, sex terms and insults. There are also some tamer options mixed in there, too.
Plus, “Dirty Spanish” takes regional slang into account, clearly marking any region-specific slang with where it’s from. A pronunciation guide makes this book easy to use for both beginning and experienced Spanish students.
If you want options, “Streetwise Spanish Dictionary/Thesaurus” has them. With over 5000 words and phrases, you’ll never be lacking for colorful vocabulary. Entries in the thesaurus section are grouped in themes, with those themes being alphabetized.
A dictionary is also available when you need to lookup a word quickly. Each entry includes the Spanish word/phrase, its literal translation, its figurative meaning and a note on what region its from (when applicable).
You don’t have to spend a fortune on designer clothes or binge on Instagrammable foods to stay current with the latest trends.
Check out these 30 great slang resources, and your vocabulary will always be en vogue!
This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you
can take anywhere.
Click here to get a copy. (Download)
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