Learning Australian English in the Australia

study in australia

Learning Australian English in the Australia

International students are travelling long distances and making big sacrifices to get an Australian education. In particular, they can find Australian English challenging and they share how they are learning Australian slang and understanding the accent.

If you're a visitor to Australia you're still likely hear people using old fashioned slang like g’day mate or crikey. But the language that causes the most problems for newcomers is the Australian habit of shortening words. This is most often characterised by cutting off the word after the first syllable and adding an 'o' or and 'ie'. So 'breakfast' commonly becomes brekkie, 'barbeque' becomes barbie, 'university' becomes uni, 'garbage collectors' become garbos and 'politicians' become pollies.

If you've come to terms with the Australian habit of shortening words you're well on the way to making sense of Aussie slang. You might want to have a stickybeak at a few more phrases. To stickybeak means to investigate or look around, often in a prying or nosey way. If someone is referred to as a stickybeak they are the kind of person who likes to pry into the private affairs of others. We might say they are nosey. If you're known as a stickybeak you might be told to pull your head in. This old Australian phrase means to withdraw, back off, or stop what you are doing, like the action of a turtle pulling its head back into its shell. It's similar to mind your own business.

If you're having trouble finding your way while in Australia, your sense of direction might not be the problem. Some common navigational advice might sound different. If someone tells you to chuck a left, they mean turn left. You might also hear the more American hang a left. If they advise you to travel five clicks they mean five kilometres. If they suggest you chuck a u-ey they mean that you should perform a u-turn, or turn the car around and drive the other way. If someone has had a prang, they've had a car accident. And a servo is a service station, or a gas station. It's another two clicks up the road, if you get to the servo you'll have to chuck a u-ey, you've gone too far But remember to drive safely, especially if you've got the little tackers in the back. Little tackers are children, also known as ankle biters in more old fashioned Australian slang.

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