Chinese Language Teacher Becomes Internet Celebrity

In China, Jessica Beinecke is kind of  a big deal.

The 27-year-old language teacher has become an internet celebrity for her work on OMG Meiyu (OMG American English), a YouTube program produced by Voice of America that teaches American slang terms like “twerk” and “swag” to Mandarin speakers.  She also has two programs of her own: Crazy Fresh Chinese, which teaches English-speaking students how to say words like “totes” and “hipster” in Mandarin, and Bai Jie LaLaLa. Like OMG Meiyu, Bai Jie LaLaLa is aimed at Chinese speakers.

With her offbeat, bubbly personality and model-pretty good looks, Ms. Beinecke ( Bai Jie to her Chinese audience) has attracted a loyal army of fans, including 400,000 followers on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

Why the focus on slang, especially the type of slang words that more conservative English scholars see as a sign of the coming apocalypse? Ms. Beinecke told the Wall Street Journal that the show’s format makes the language more accessible to young students:

“I kind of spice it up and give them something to use. They can say when they go to Starbucks, ‘Hey, get me a zhong bei dou na tie – give me a medium soy latte. It’s something they can use in the moment. So I think that’s what really connects.”

The effect goes both ways, also making Mandarin more relatable to an American audience, she says:

“The looks on their faces when they learn there’s a word for swag and twerk in Mandarin, they instantly have this new connection to Mandarin and they can more instantly relate to a language that they thought up to that point was foreign to them.”

The videos are fun, bite-sized and almost addictive. For example,  if you’ve ever wondered how to say “hipster” in Mandarin, wonder no more:

Slang Around the World- Colorful Words and Phrases to Tickle Your Funny Bone

Your English teacher may not have approved of it. And the older generations may start muttering about kids and lawns when they hear it. But slang helps keep languages interesting and alive. And many of the words and expressions we use today started out as slang. Often playful and colorful, slang is like a laboratory for language.

Slang is everywhere, and most of it defies direct translation. Want to learn more about slang around the world? We’ve collected some of the funniest and most interesting slang words and phrases in different languages.

Funny Australian Slang: Who gave that lizard a beer?

Australia is known for its colorful way with the English language. Here’s one of the most puzzling Aussie phrases:

Flat out like a lizard drinking.

Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with drunk reptiles. Instead, it means you’re extremely busy.

Long Teeth and Spanish Cows: Funny French Slang

Avoir les dents longues. 

Translation: Long in the tooth.
Meaning: In English, of course, this expression means “old” or “elderly.” In French, though, it simply means “ambitious.”

Spanish cow is funny French slang.

Who are you calling a Spanish cow?

Parler comme une vache espagnole.

Translation: To talk like a Spanish cow.
Meaning:  To speak poorly.

Arrête de te la péter.

Translation: Stop snapping your suspender against your chest. But “péter” also means “to fart.”
Meaning:  Stop bragging. Read more