Speaking like a convict

Students delve into flash language to make their own dictionary.

Student activities

Task no. 1

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Speaking like a convict

Teachers note: Download and print Resource 1: Dictionary of Criminal Slang

Guess the meaning of the following list of words and phrases that have come from James Hardy Vaux’s dictionary of flash language. For each guess you make, explain how you came to that conclusion.

  • Buffer
  • Cove
  • Rigging
  • Draw
  • Feeder
  • Monkey
  • Ruffles
  • Woolly-bird
  • Crack
  • Sell

Now, look at the list of words in Resource 1: Dictionary of Criminal Slang to find out what convicts meant when they used these words, according to James Hardy Vaux.

Sort the 10 flash language words you have encountered so far into two columns. The first column is for verbs and the second column is for nouns.

As a class work together to create an illustrated flash language dictionary. Each student in the class is assigned a different word or phrase from James Hardy Vaux’s dictionary from Resource 1: Dictionary of Criminal Slang. Each word/phrase will be represented on one A4 page with the word/phrase, a definition and an illustration. When each page is ready for compilation, work together to arrange the pages into alphabetical order. Once the order has been established, each student will announce their word/phrase and its meaning.  The pages can then be collected in correct alphabetical order and compiled in a display folder or bound into a booklet.