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University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 3, 2008

UI to host orientation on American idioms and slang Nov. 5

When you hear the phrase "Chill out," does that mean you're catching a cold? If someone says "You bet," would you think he or she is gambling?

The University of Iowa Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will help answer these questions and many more during "The English You Don't Learn in the Classroom," from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, in 1117 of the University Capitol Centre as part of the ongoing "Life in Iowa" program series designed to teach international students how to adjust to living and studying in Iowa.

Knowing how to "walk the walk, and talk the talk" is essential to success in U.S. culture, especially on college campuses, according to Maureen Burke, coordinator of the UI English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs in the Department of Linguistics in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"People use idiomatic expressions all the time, in the dorms, in the classroom and in everyday conversation. Nearly everyone makes references to pop culture or uses sports analogies in everyday conversation," Burke said. "If students know what these references mean and how to identify with them, they will feel more a part of the environment in which they live."

The orientation will also clarify what slang and expressions are appropriate for use in casual or more formal contexts, and caution students of what to be aware of when using slang.

"It can be very confusing, when you have no idea if what you have heard is okay to use in another situation," Burke said. "The session will provide students with strategies to make decisions when in different types of situations."

All international and non-international students are welcome to attend this free event. Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

The Office of International Students and Scholars provides leadership in international education and intercultural learning serving nearly 2,500 international students and scholars who are members of the University of Iowa community.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate, contact Julie Pollock at 319-335-0335 or

STORY SOURCE: University News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS:  Shannon Lizakowski, Office of International Students and Scholars, 319-335-0335,; Maureen Burke, English as a Second Language Programs, 319-335-5630,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Caroline Jones