Today, I interview Hanna, an online English teacher who is a ball of positive energy.  She specializes in teaching natural English as it is spoken in everyday life in the United States.  She also speaks Spanish and has been studying Chinese for the last 1.5 years.  I think you are going to love the unique expressions she teaches us today and we’ll also hear a little about her lifestyle in Houston, Texas.  

In this episode, Hanna and I have a natural conversation about the lifestyle and language in Houston, Texas. She shares some of her hobbies and pastimes and a little about the cultural atmosphere in Houston, Texas.  

Here are some words that she covers in the episode: 

“Y’all”= a way of addressing a group of people and an alternative to “you guys”

“Y’all wanna go out tonight?”

“Fixin’ to”=I’m going to do something

“I’m fixin’ to go get some food.”

“Come in clutch”=to help someone out at just the right time. “By brother came in clutch when I got a flat tire.”

“Tight”=very close friends “We’re tight. We’ve been friends for 10 years.”

Hanna also shares the importance of learning slang to build relationships with Americans and to fit in culturally.  She talks about ways of asking her friends to clarify what certain slang words mean since it can be tricky for people to understand all of the nuanced meanings. We also talk about Chat GPT and how she uses it in her own English classes.  She uses Chat GPT to write the closing of our podcast episode. 

Take classes with Hanna and find her on social media:

Amazing Talker link to take private or group classes with me 

Hanna’s Instagram 

Hanna’s YouTube Channel 

Viral “Y’all” TIKTOK video 

Here is the podcast transcript: 

Anne: Welcome to the American Slang podcast, where we will explore language and culture in different regions of the United States. Slang is a type of informal language that’s typically spoken in a certain area or by a group of people. Culture is dynamic. Language is dynamic. And in this podcast, we will explore the connections between them and the way new words and expressions emerge in different places in America. I’m Anne.

Anne: I’m a virtual educator and I work for the US. State Department’s English language programs through the US. Embassy in Mexico City. I also teach Toefl IBT, writing and speaking intensive programs, and you can learn more about those on my website. Today I interview Hanna, an online English teacher who is a ball full of positive energy. She specializes in teaching natural English as it is spoken in everyday life in the United States. She also speaks Spanish and has been studying Chinese for the last one and a half years. I think you’re going to love the unique expressions she teaches us today. And also we’ll hear a little bit about her lifestyle in Houston, Texas.

Anne: Okay, well, I want to get started by just saying thank you for being on the podcast. And also, I know that you are an, online language teacher. You work with students all over the world. And I know that you’re sort of really passionate about teaching English that is spoken, that’s heard on the streets, natural English that’s not found in a textbook. So that’s kind of like what your vibe is. Right? And that’s why I love having you on this podcast because you are kind of a slang expert. A lot of people that are living in the US. I would say, like, so what kind of slang terms do you use in slang?

Hanna: Right.

Anne: And they have no idea because they don’t notice it. But I know that you kind of notice it since you teach it. And you’re a language teacher.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: So thanks for joining me. Why don’t you just tell us kind of a little bit about what it’s I know, tell us where you’re from in the US. And just a little bit about your context and a little bit about you.

Hanna: Absolutely, yes. So I’ve been a city girl my whole life. I’m in Houston, Texas. I’ve been living here my whole entire life. And I did not realize how special this place was until I would travel outside of Houston. I don’t travel that often, but, um, there’s just a lot of diversity here. Right. And, uh, it really blew my mind when I went to this small town in Georgia called Blairsville. And this town is majority, um, we’ll say retirees, right? People who are retired and who are white. So I was looking around, I was the only I’m white. But I am in Houston and I see everyone different colors, everyone different styles and different tastes in style, music, um, cultures. And I hear different languages very frequently, languages I don’t even know. Right. Every day. And I thought that was normal until I actually saw what it was like outside of my own city.

Anne: I love that. So you can probably go to lots of you can eat Vietnamese food one day. Then you can go and eat, like, Indian food and explore different neighborhoods in Houston. And how about, um, the lifestyle there? Can you tell me some of the things you could do, like, if you visited Houston in terms of or I guess your daily lifestyle? Do you go to yoga or do you go and do activities or hobbies around the city?

Hanna: Yeah, there’s many options of things that you can do. Like past times, I work a lot, and I’m in university right now, so my time is very limited. But before I was teaching, um, back in middle school, I would go to hip hop class. Cool.

Hanna: Yeah.

Hanna: This dance studio, I would learn hip hop, but I also learned many other styles, like ballet, jazz, musical theater, stretch, and tone, which is very similar to yoga. And right next to that dance studio was a yoga place. And, uh, before that, I did track. Track is pretty popular here, which is running. Right. But I did not like I’m not a sports person, to be honest. Um, but you can try anything. We have a boxing place, we have Taekwondo, we have Jujitsu. We have, um, plenty of places, of course, like baseball, football, all those classic American sports. Mhm full of those. And then the gym have a workout place that can go la fitness.

Anne: Oh, yeah. My dad was recently telling me he pays $10 a month to go to that gym. I was like, wow, I don’t know if it’s because I was like, is that because you’re an older adult? And he said, no, it’s like that for everyone, $10 a month. I was like, uh, that’s really cheap.

Hanna: I wish I had the time really dear. Uh, yeah. But I spend most of my days at home. And if I’m not at home, I’ll go to the grocery stores. I have many, um, grocery stores near me. Everything is very accessible. Starbucks, I have, like, I’ll say maybe six Starbucks within, like, five minutes. Driving distance.

Anne: Yes. Starbucks is delicious. I love their green tea latte. What do you usually get when you go there? Or do you just avoid it because it’s like, $4 a cup of coffee?

Hanna: Yes.

Hanna: And until I remember, I would go there every once in a while, and then I would watch these videos about how much sugar is in a frappuccino. I’m like, yeah, this is more of a dessert than a coffee. What is this?

Anne: And then they have these financial videos about, like, if you spend $4 on a coffee per day, then this is how much you spend per month. And then you calculate it per year. And then you’re like, whoa.

Hanna: It adds up more than you can imagine. And I would see these girls, um, because girls are like the ones who love Starbucks. So at high school, you just see these girls sipping their Starbucks, and they’re like, yes. And I’m just like, man, you go there all the time. Who’s paying for this?

Hanna: You are.

Hanna: Your parents. A lot of money right there in one week.

Anne: Yes, definitely.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: So it sounds like a great city to live in. I know a girl from Spain who went to Texas as a teacher because they hire Spanish teachers. And she actually went to Dallas, though. But she said the same thing. It’s extremely diverse. She said she met people from all over the world, and she just fell in love with the diversity in the city, which is I’ve never been to Texas, but she said there were so many things to do. It was amazing to meet people from all over. She said. Like you were saying, there were, like, engineers from India and there were people from all different countries.

Hanna: Yeah, definitely. For sure. Engineering is really, like, the hot thing here because Houston is known for oil and gas. Yeah, we have a lot of engineers here. Um, for sure.

Hanna: Yeah.

Hanna: That’s, like, our main thing.

Anne: And so you decided not to go into the oil and gas industry because you fell in love with teaching. I was so much more right.

Hanna: Honestly, I was almost on the verge of really going into the engineering field, oddly enough, because they offered this engineering class in middle school, um, for high school credit. And I was like, okay, get a high school credit. And then I actually liked engineering, but the second class was so boring. And I asked myself, do I really see myself sitting in a cubicle in front of an Excel spreadsheet every single day? And I don’t, because I’m way too expressive creative. And engineering is very inside the box thinking. Uh, very one plus one equals two. And no expressive creativity with that.

Anne: And now you get to kind of, like, shine. Your personality comes out. You meet people from around the world and sort of share the beauty of the English language with people from around the world. That’s so cool that you kind of found your passion in teaching. Yes.

Hanna: And money is not like money is the least of my concerns when I have such beautiful things like that coming to me. Priceless exactly.

Anne: So, uh, today I want to talk about some slang words that we could hear. Let’s say we travel to your city. What are some words we might hear if we venture there? That could be kind of heard in the streets or that we might because I know a lot of people go to the US. Or even Americans. They travel to different cities, and that’s when they start noticing the slang, because those words may not be in their cities or they might not hear them in other parts of the US.

Hanna: Yeah, we do have, like, special slang that has originated from here or at least the state of Texas and has spread so much. And it’s really funny because a long time ago, I made a TikTok video. This is when I had TikTok. It, uh, was a long time ago.

Anne: You deleted TikTok. It was taking too much of your time.

Hanna: I was attracting an American audience. I was like, Everyone speaks English here, why am I doing this? So I made this video talking about the word, “y’all.” Now, “Y’all” is for you, plural. So anytime you’re addressing a group of people or talking about more than one person, you can say “y’all” instead of you guys. So I made this thing talking about, oh, yeah, we use y’all in the Southern area. I showed a map and I said, oh, these people use “y’all.” But then I saw that video went super viral and thousands of comments like, oh, I’m in New York, I say y’all too. Oh, I’m in Michigan. I say y’all too. I’m in Seattle. And I say “y’all” as well. And I’m like, oh my gosh, I thought it was only in the south. Um, so you could say something, right? It spreads. I did not realize that.

Hanna: Mhm.

Anne: Because that was something I heard my grandmother say all the time in Mississippi, y’all. But now apparently it’s spoken as like an alternative to you guys.

Hanna: Yeah, that’s right. So instead of saying, hey, you guys, how’s it going? You could say, hey, y’all, how’s it going?

Anne: Ah, what’s up, y’all? And it just sounds good and it’s more inclusive. I don’t know. I love it. I love you all.

Hanna: I feel that.

Anne: Yeah.

Hanna: And, uh, another one we have is “fixing to.” “Fixing to” Yeah.

Anne: Fixing to?

Hanna: Yes.

Anne: But you don’t pronounce it like “fixing to.” You pronounce it “fixin’ to.” Yeah.

Hanna: Fixing to do this. So it would be like I’m fixing to head to the store to pick up some groceries. I’m fixing to. So we’re not actually fixing anything, but yeah, we are going somewhere, going to do something. This is like a future action. Yes.

Anne: I absolutely love that slang word. Do you feel like you just grew up hearing that? Because, uh, my Southern relatives say that all the time. Like, I’m fixing to do this, fixing to do that. And when I went to the south for the first time, I heard that kind of language and I was like, Whoa, fixing?

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: Saying it.

Hanna: I did, definitely. Because my mom’s Mexican. She’s been living here, uh, for 30 something years. M. So she’s been in here longer than she’s been in Mexico.

Anne: Oh, wow. Uh, are you like first generation?

Hanna: Yeah, well, I’m actually adopted by her. Yes. Uh, she learned British English in school in Mexico.

Anne: Oh my gosh, that’s really shocking.

Hanna: Right?

Hanna: She came here she was like, what is going on?

Anne: I am so yeah, the pronunciation is so different.

Hanna: She describes it as like bees in a beehive. That’s how she felt we were talking. Because here in Texas we mix our words a lot more than I think most other states do.

Anne: It’s kind of “sing songy” English. Like it sounds more like a song song, doesn’t it?

Hanna: Yeah, it does.

Anne: This accent the Southern accent.

Hanna: Yeah, for sure. And so my mom got comfortable with how we speak here. And she uses “fixing to.” So I remember recently she was on the phone, uh, complaining about, um, I don’t know, the community, like to the HOA it’s a homeowners association for the listeners who don’t know. She was complaining on the phone, saying, “I’m fixing to do something serious here. I’m fixing to do something serious if you don’t fix my problem, I’m fixing to do something.” And I was like, yes, mom, you got this. Anytime we say that we’re about to do something, about to is another kind of slang phrase.

Hanna: Something that you’re going to do in a short period of time.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: You could say, yeah, fixing to do.

Hanna: This, I’m about to do this.

Anne: Yeah. Well, if you’re in the kitchen or something, you could be like, I’m fixing to make pancakes.

Hanna: Right.

Anne: I’m going to go cook something in the kitchen.

Hanna: Exactly.

Hanna: Like, hey, what are you doing? Oh, I’m fixing to make some pancakes.

Anne: M. Do you think it’s primarily southern slang, probably? I would think so. Uh, I didn’t hear it in the Midwest very much or in other parts of the US. As much. Yeah, that’s a really fun one. And so maybe people who travel to Texas may not, uh, feel so comfortable using something like that at first. But then if they hear they kind of know what it means, they’re going to be like, oh, that’s something you will not find in a textbook. Right, exactly.

Hanna: No, you will not. For sure. You’re absolutely right.

Anne: Because like what you’re saying, it’s a word that’s used for to fix something. Like fix maintenance. M car maintenance or something. But then it’s changed to meaning a future action. So yeah, really interesting.

Hanna: Exactly. I don’t know how it came that’s the thing with slang. We don’t know who invents it, how it comes out, how it’s related to fixing something. There’s no correlation. But slang is very random like that. You just have to trust it.

Anne: Exactly. And so tell me, I know that are you into cars or I know like cars. You have a slang car term. I think that this would be like a good segue into the car slang. But it doesn’t have anything to do with cars. But it’s still referring to a car part.

Hanna: Right, right. So in a car there’s something called the clutch. The clutch, which how do I describe a clutch? I don’t drive an um yeah, you.

Anne: Do you drive an automatic car? Yeah, I heard you. It’s really hard to buy anything other than automatics now in the US.

Hanna: True.

Anne: Yeah, because we have stick shifts in Europe. So it’s like, okay, you have the brake in the middle, and then the clutch is to the left, and then there’s an accelerator to the right. The gas, like, you would accelerate on the right and then the clutch is all the way far left. But on an automatic car, you only have two, right? Right, correct. You just have, like, the brake and the accelerator. Would you call it an am I using the right term? No.

Hanna: Yeah, we say, like, the pedal, the gas pedal. Yeah. Okay, I got you. We connect. You’re using different ways to express the idea. That’s English for you. This phrase, “come in clutch.” That’s the phrase, “come in clutch.” Now, how does it correlate? There’s no correlation. Really? So I’ll just give some examples here to express the idea. Hopefully the listeners can figure out what it means.

Hanna: Let’s see. So my first example is, uh, I forgot my laptop charger at home, but my coworker came in clutch and lent me hers. Lent me hers.

Anne: Yeah. Kind of saved me. Like someone helped me out. Somebody kind of solved my problem. Or in the nick of time.

Hanna: Of really help me. How about that? Another phrase for yeah, at the perfect moment, the problem was solved. Came in clutch. So you can say a person came in clutch? Um, yeah, we usually refer to the person that came in clutch.

Anne:. Do you remember the first time you heard it being used?

Hanna: Oh, my brother my older brother uses it a lot. And so I feel like, um I don’t know, maybe when I was, like, going into my teenage years, he would use it a lot.

Hanna: Like, Come and clutch. And then that’s the thing with sling. You first hear it and it’s, like, so confusing. You don’t know it’s foreign to you, but then you hear it again and again. And maybe it comes up in a TV show, comes up in a movie. I’m like, oh, I get it now. I get it now. Um so, yeah, I would say it started coming up when I was like, um, maybe back in 2014. I don’t know if that’s when it was.

Anne: It’s been around for a while. It’s not like a completely new slang word.

Anne: Do you think it has anything to do with the car? Because when you use the clutch, like, you’re pressing it in. I don’t know. In terms of the car vocabulary, the clutch is a necessary part of the car.

Hanna: I guess it okay. That could have some correlation.

Anne: Yeah, some correlation. I don’t know. Yeah. So basically, it’s like, I go, I’m in a really tight situation. It’s stressful. Something’s bad is happening to me. Maybe let’s imagine my tire go is flat and I have to pull over on the side of the road, somebody would help me out and they would come in clutch. And I would be like, “You came in clutch!”

Hanna: Exactly. That’s the perfect moment to use that phrase.

Anne: Uh, you came in clutch. So I would use it like that. Like you came in clutch.

Hanna: Right, exactly. Like, oh, thank you so much. You really came in clutch at the.

Anne: Perfect moment I needed. So it sounds like you mainly use it in the past tense, like you’re going to say like, you came in clutch.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: You wouldn’t be like, that really comes in clutch. Something like you wouldn’t I don’t usually hear it like that. Yeah, it’s like past tense, it came in clutch.

Hanna: Or maybe, “I hope he comes in clutch.” Maybe you’re wishing that some perfect moment can happen.

Hanna: Yes.

Anne: Like if you’re in a bad situation, you could be like, I hope he comes in clutch. This person to come solve this for me.

Hanna: Yeah, I just called my friend like, hey, I need your help. Oh, I hope he comes in clutch.

Anne: Yeah, that works. That’s really fun. It’s something I’ve never heard before, but yeah, um really cool. Really cool slang. And maybe people like I said, slang, it’s really advanced and so to use this in conversation takes a while, I think it takes a while of hearing it multiple times and then hearing how it’s used right before you feel comfortable.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: But if you know what it means, that’s just huge. If you understand the meaning, it helps you.

Hanna: Yeah, it does take time and it takes repetition because from m the first try, it’s very easy to misunderstand slang.

Hanna: It’s like, uh, what does that mean? I’ll flat out ask, uh, what do you mean by that? What do you mean by tight? Tight, like over tight. Uh, if I heard someone say, for example, “My friends and I are so tight,” um, tight? Tight as in like, you can’t move. What does that mean? So that’s a new slang? Well, not new, that’s pretty old. But it’s another slang that we use if we are describing a really close relationship.

Anne: Yes, close relationship. I love that one. And, um, yeah, it’s like, we’re so tight, we’re so close. And it just says sometimes what I like about slang sometimes is it says so much by saying so little. Instead of making this long phrase about how close we are and what close friends we are, you can just be like, we’re tight, we’re tight.

Hanna: Exactly. Yeah.

Anne: It says it all. Yeah.

Hanna: I like it.

Hanna: You could say like, oh, hey, do you know Emily? Oh, yeah, we’re tight.

Anne: Do you feel like slang is something that’s worth kind of like learning about? Or do you feel like it’s just kind of a waste to learn about slang? Waste of time.

Hanna: I feel that if a person’s goal is to build a closer relationship, a friendly relationship with an american slang is like the key to unlock that door because it makes the conversation more friendly. It adds some comedy into it.  It’s relatable.

Anne: Uh, uh, and it’s more funny. You could make someone laugh, maybe.

Hanna: Yes, that’s right. I feel that. I do feel that. It just breaks the ice quicker.

Anne: Yeah, that’s true. And slang is kind of one of those things where it’s just fun. It’s just really fun. Like, it’s playful, it’s creative. It makes speaking kind of it’s like.

Hanna: A secret language behind the English language. It’s like, oh, get to know some secret things. This is interesting.

Anne: I didn’t think about what are you thinking?

Hanna: Uh, of I’m going to ask chat GPT to help me out.

Anne: Oh, yeah. This is super interesting because lately everyone’s talking about chat GTP, which is hard to say. I have to look at it. It’s GPT.

Hanna: GPT? Yeah.

Anne: That’s easier to say than GTP.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: Everyone’s talking about it today. And I watched a YouTube video about Chat GPT on can this create a cool story or do humans still write better stories?

Anne: And the YouTube video, the guy hosted this literature, kind of like this PhD in literature, in literary analysis. And he said, Chad GPT, uh, is never going to be able to mimic the suffering and the personal experiences that we have felt that we can express through literature. So, uh, it’s going to be missing that. It’s going to be missing those personal details or something like that. Which makes sense.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: But it’s true today. I was just, like, using it, just playing around, like, write me a story about this because I teach some students in Mexico. So I was like, write me a quick folktale using like, a Mexican folktale, uh, with 200 words or something like that for my students. And it wrote me a cool little tale.

Hanna: It does.

Anne: You’re using it it sounds like you’re using it for your classes. You’re using it for ideas. You’re using it just to brainstorm. Right, right.

Hanna: Yeah.

Hanna: It’s amazing. I purchased the $20 premium version. What does that get you? So, um, I use chi GPT. I ask probably like 100 questions every single day. I use it so often, and before they released the premium subscription, I would always run into the situation of, oh, we’re at capacity. Oh, at capacity.  You can’t use it. And I would get really irritated. I’m like, mhm because I would use it.

Anne: They only let you search a few things a day, and then the paid subscription was like, unlimited searches.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: That’s right. For your teaching, for example, would you search, like, conversation questions about this or yeah, conversation questions.

Hanna: I even say, um, I’ll make a dialogue make a casual dialogue between two teenagers where one of the teenagers is having some problems, uh, or whatever. I create some or maybe generate a list of role plays or generate a list of work, um, situations. Today I did like a conflict between coworkers.

Anne: Uh, we did a dialogue.

Hanna: Interesting.

Anne: Look at that. It makes preparation pretty easy and fast.

Hanna: Then.

Anne: Yes, you’re getting a lot of ideas. M mhm. Really cool. You’re, like, a huge fan of Chat GPT. I see that.

Hanna: Yeah.

Anne: You’ve made some videos about it and stuff, right?

Hanna: Yeah, I did, because I’m just so fascinated by it.

Anne: It’s a hot topic. It’s a really hot topic. It’s everywhere.

Hanna: And look, I just made this podcast ending. I said, make a podcast ending using some of these slang, y’all, fixing two about to tight. Oh, I should have added “Come and clutch.”

Anne: Oh, yeah. Uh, “come in clutch.”

Hanna: Come in, clutch. I’ll remake it.

Anne: I’ll remake it.

Hanna: I got to retype it. So come in clutch. Let’s see. Come in clutch and let’s see what.

Anne: I want to know if it’s going to be like, we’re fixing to in this podcast. We’re fixing to close out here. We’re fixing to say goodbye to “y’all.”

Hanna: Oh, my gosh.

Anne: You’re right. It’s listening to this conversation right now, though, it just dictated what I said.

Hanna: Yes. It says, thanks for tuning into this episode of the podcast, y’all. We hope you enjoyed our discussion on the topic. We’re fixing to wrap it up now. But before we go, we wanted to remind you that if you’re about to take on a new challenge, don’t forget to stay tight and keep pushing yourself. And if you need a little extra help, remember that your friends and family can always come and clutch when you need them. So until next time, take care and keep on keeping on.

Anne: That’s sick. That is a sick podcast ending. The only thing is that the use of tight was kind of off.

Hanna: Yeah, it didn’t really use it accurately. That’s the thing. I do it with guidance. I guide my students, like, oh, it didn’t use this one accurately. Let’s, uh, talk about that.

Anne: But I love it. It’s a fun way to end. Just kind of bringing all the words together. And also it came up with “wrap it up,” which is like this idea of wrapping up a gift or wrapping up closing out, which is kind of another slang word, another kind of colloquial way of saying close it up, ended up right. Well, I see your camera is, like, slowly… Thank you so much for doing this with me. It was really fun to talk to you about Houston slang and just the culture of the city and learning some new words from you and getting to know you and meet you. I really hope that this podcast episode connects with your audience and that your listeners also love it and that some of my students also find it interesting. We kind of want to motivate people to learn about American culture. Go beyond just thinking about America as this McDonald’s country or something like that. It goes beyond that. There’s just so many more layers. There’s so much more depth to American culture, right?

Hanna: Yes, exactly. And I really appreciate you having me on such an honor. Such an honor. So I hope the listeners have learned something and become more, um, open minded to America and more excited to coming to America, if possible.

Anne: Uh, and even if people can’t necessarily travel to the US. At least they can kind of get to know this fascinating culture through podcast episodes like this, and through language and through culture. I think it’s really an interesting kind of connection, the way new words are formed and all of that.

Anne’s Closing: Well, that was a lot of fun. I’m so glad that you listened to the Houston episode. And the next episode will probably be about slang in Louisiana, or I’m thinking of also interviewing someone from Seattle, Washington, or Maine. So if you have a preference, let me know. I would love to hear what part of the US you want to hear about and talk to you soon. See you.