Formal vs Informal English

Formal vs Informal English

This podcast is about formal and informal language. Which type of communication do you prefer?


Voiced by Kirsten Colquhoun

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Formal vs Informal English

Mother: Kristina! It's time for dinner. Please sit down.

Daughter: Hey, Old Girl! I've already stuffed myself with junk food! I went to MacDonald's with my crew one hour ago...

 – Excuse me! Please don't call me 'Old Girl' – that's not a polite way to address your mother. I'm disappointed that you ate fast food today. You know how I feel about eating junk food. It ruins your skin; it's not good for your body...

 – Come on, Mom! Not another lecture on nutrition, please! All my friends' mothers are totally cool and let them do whatever they want...

 – Well, I'm not your friends' mothers – I'm your mother and junk food is forbidden in our house. Is that understood?

 – I guess so...

 – So, how was the birthday party at Julie's house?

 –  It was wild, Mom! Julie's Dad had a small zoo in the back garden...monkeys, zebras and kangaroos!

 – Oh wow! That sounds amazing.

 – The only problem is that Julie's older brother is a total jerk and was acting like an idiot to me! I told him twice to shut up...

 – Kristine! Please don't speak like that. Even if you don't like him, you could say instead that 'he's not the nicest person' and just walk away.

 – Whatever...I'm just saying that he's a real pain in the...

 – That's enough! How is school?

 – I got the results of my maths exam this morning.

 – So, what's the news?

 – Mom, you know that I busted my ass studying for this crappy test. When I got the exam paper, I totally freaked! I didn't know anything – it was permutations and I was expecting algebra!

 – Kristine, please don't use that kind of language! Where on earth did you learn to speak like that? It's not a crappy test – it's a difficult test. I understand that you studied hard, but you should have listened to your teacher and studied the right chapters.

 – My teacher is a nutcase! She...

 – Kristine, just say she's eccentric. There's no need to call people names...

 – She is never clear with us about what we have to do!

Knock! Knock!

 – There's someone at the door – it's our neighbour, Mrs. Crank. Now, please be polite, Kristine! Oh hello, Mrs. Crank! Lovely to see you. Have you met my daughter, Kristine?

 – What's up, Mrs. Crank! What's going on?

 – She can't understand you! Be more polite.

 – Oh...uh... good morning, Mrs. Crank. It's a pleasure to see you again...

 – Here's your letter, Mrs. Crank! Goodbye!... Kristine, when you meet someone you don't know, please say: 'Good afternoon! It's lovely to see you!' with a big smile. When it's time to leave, you can politely say, 'It's been great speaking to you but I must let you go now. Have a nice day!'. Remember! Good communication skills are the key to a successful life – and career!

 – The kids in my school don't talk like that! Everyone uses slang, cool words and loads of bad language...

 – That might be trendy at school, but it won't help for your summer job interview at the museum on Monday.

 – Oh Mom! I'm bummed out about that interview. I'm not prepared!

 – You must have more confidence. Now, what can you say when the interviewer asks you about your education?

 – I'll just tell him that I've been hanging out at the same school for five years, I'm a straight A student in most subjects and I rock at musical performance!

 – In the interview, you want to use different expressions, like...'I've been enrolled in St. Mary's High School for five years. I've excelled at most subjects with top grades and I'm the leading soprano in our school'.

 – Why do I need to speak so formally?

 – When you speak formally, it shows that you also have a serious side. It's okay to use some slang in the right contexts, but in a business and work situation, you need to adapt to a more formal role. Remember the old saying: 'Mother knows best!'