TRACY on Language

Archive for January 2010

I realized not to long ago that I love the idea of picking up a “Teach Yourself This Language” book and reading it and grasping the language, or better yet, listening to audio lessons that go with it. The problem? All of these language learning books and audio lessons teach towards the vacation/business traveler! I’m so tired of being taught how to say boy, girl, my name is, where is the embassy, I’m an American, yadda yadda that it’s sickening. And then the audio lessons not only have these dull topics, but also a dull voice. And there’s so much English (and spoken the same pace as the L2!). No need to speak the English part slow! Tell me what it is and quickly move on! And with some personality, please!

I learned a surprising amount of Spanish from not because their method was particularly more instructive than any other method, but because I enjoyed listening to them banter in English or in Spanish and the hosts have great, authentic personalities. So many podcasters are just so plain awkward to listen to that it’s painful. The host of SpanishPod are natural and interesting on the mic. I’ve listened to FrenchPod, ChinesePod and ItalianPod, and maybe I need to give them more of a chance, but not even other hosts from the same company are quite as good.

I can learn the word boy just as well from the sentence, “Hey, I think that boy is flirting with you,” as I can from, “The boy is short.” Why do traditional materials insist on spending the bulk of their time with sentences like the second one???

Anyway, so in theory, traditional learning materials are HOW I want to learn, they’re just not WHAT I want to learn. Or from WHO I want to learn it. I’m sure there have to be some interesting, funny personalities in every language. Can’t someone find one and have them make audio lessons?

*Stepping off soap box*