Expressions & Idioms

A collection of resources on Australian and New Zealand English

  • ABC article: ‘’I’m stuffed’: migrants boggled by Aussie slang’ (18 Sep 2009)
  • Aussie English for the Beginner – this is a comprehensive resource on Australian English on the National Museum of Australia website.  Includes Flash interactives that go with the books and the True Blue Aussie Quiz
  • The Aussie English CD – Fun and irreverent interactive CD-ROM of Australian ‘Ocker’ English and culture. Check out the multimedia samples on the website and more on the AussieEnglishCD YouTube channel  [Not sure whether you can still buy the CD-ROM as the link seems to be broken – a shame as my students love this!  Still, there are a lot of videos on their YouTube channel, so you might find some gems there. (@cioccas) ]
  • Understanding Everyday Australian (Boyer Educational Resources)
    • The ‘Understanding Everyday Australian’ series includes student and teacher books and audio CD resources. These resources explain contemporary Australian language and are enjoyable and easy to use. They incorporate widely used everyday Australian expressions, pronunciation and practical hints for general conversation. They also assist those teaching English grammar, pronunciation, speaking and listening skills.
    • Available in print or e-book download
  • They’re a Weird Mob (1957 book, 1966 film) – A bit dated now, but the story’s depiction of the struggles of a migrant who has learnt ‘proper’ English to understand Australian English (as well as understand Australian culture) still rings true. [The link here is to Australian Screen website which has 3 clips from the film, with accompanying transcript & teacher notes.]
  • How to Speak New Zenglish
    Designed for both New Zealanders and people who want to talk to New Zealanders, How to Speak New Zenglish brings everyday Kiwi conversation to life with unnerving accuracy, and celebrates the mangled mess of a language we proudly call our own.
    [Unfortunately this seems to be out-of-print, but do a search and you might find a copy somewhere!]
    How to Speak New Zenglish: An Interview with Jesse Mulligan – The Lumière Reader 3 May 2013
  • Using film texts to teach about the English Language (Australian English)
    This resource offers suggestions for using film (and some sound only) texts to introduce students to the different varieties of Australian English. Film clips can be grouped to give students an understanding of the way the Australian language has changed over time. A number of these clips also demonstrate synchronic variation within Australian English and provide a focus for exploring and learning to apply the metalanguage of linguistic analysis.
  • Australia Day McDonald’s ad
    Could be good with advanced learners, exposure to accent, rhyme & of course some common slang – can also look at common Aussie -o words (ambo, sambo, arvo, relo etc.) The ad text is: “Here’s Gazza the ambo who’s pulled an all-nighter./Nan and mum with the ankle biter./Stevo from Paddo on a break from a reno,/havin’ a chinwag with the visiting relos./Back from the Murray are Hoddy ‘n’ Binny,/with pav McFlurries ‘n’ towin’ a tinnie./Porko ‘n’ Simmo in a ute that’s chockers./Best behaviour fellas: these two are coppers./Yep, there’s Jimbos ‘n’ Bennos ‘n’ Rachs ‘n’ Ackers./But there’s only one place on earth where you can get Macca’s.” 
  • Australian Idioms Illustrated
    Australian illustrator and animator Jared Atkins has depicted some (10) “typical as well as some of the more quirky Australian sayings” (Thanks to Agi Bodis @AgsBod for the heads up on this).
  • Learn English: Australian Slang –  posted 22 January 2016 on Australia Plus
    “Would you spit the dummy if the rellies turned up unannounced for a barbie with their little tackers? If you have no idea what that sentence means, prepare yourself for a quick course in some modern Australian slang!”
  • How to Talk Australians is an eight-part online miniseries released in 2014. The series looks at Australian culture and language through the eyes of the teachers and students of the fictional ‘Delhi College of Linguistics’ (Wikipedia)
    Not the least bit politically correct, but very funny and the butt of the jokes are the Aussies.  Suggest watching before using this with students though.
    Find all 8 episodes on the YouTube playlist: How to Talk Australians
    1     “G’day Knackers”
    2     “Grub”
    3     “Rhyming Slang”
    4     “Famous Australians”
    5     “Nicknames – Hello Chopper”
    6     “The Slackarse Country”
    7     “Dunny Budgies & Budgie Smugglers”
    8     “Citizenship Test”
  • Small Poppy Syndrome: Why are Australians so Obsessed with Naming Things? Article by linguist Chi Luu on the JSTOR Daily blog, Feb 7 2018. Looks at many words (not only nicknames) that Australians shorten and how they do so, diminutives and their role in language (In Australian English but in other languages too), and what these things can reveal of Australian culture and values.