Saturday, January 05, 2008

Lost in Translation-- One Way Not To Be

Among the things I miss about my old job as an English as a Second Language Teacher are, well, my students. Sure, I'd get someone who couldn't work with me (and conversely, someone I would be sooooo happy to dump) every now and then, but most of them are serious committed professionals who really need someone to help them take hold of the language and assimilate it. Of course, there are better ways to streamline the learning process but there's only so much one can do over internet phone.

Still, we try.

One of my favorite teaching methods is to share popular songs in English with my students.
Really, if you want to learn English you have to do more than learn-ye-grammar-by-rote. If they feel that at ease with me, I sing the lyrics to them. Sometimes I get them to sing with me. A well chosen song lets the student practice pronunciation, deal with grammar and familiarizes them with usage.

True, this method has its limitations-- most songs are love songs after all. But love is a topic of great interest, something that crosses cultural and language barriers. I can almost imagine a student's face when it lights up at the discovery that there is an English idiom or meme found in a love song that corresponds with something from his native tongue.

The lyrics below belong to the most recent song I've shared with Jenny Kim, my favorite student (I'm so sorry James!). We've stayed in contact long after my classes with her ended. I want this kindred teacher (she teaches kids in Korea) to be as effective in the language as I am, or as any of her other teachers is. She has a mind (and a playful sense of humor) that can handle reading, writing, talking and singing in three languages.

Of course, since this is an El blog-- So it's not always completely about what's just been written, and its intended audience isn't always a faceless homogeneous mass of friends online. I know it's not fair to the rest of you, but allow a man to seed contraband where he will, won't you?

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That's All

I can only give you love that lasts forever,
And a promise to be near each time you call.

And the only heart I own
For you and you alone

That's all, That's all

I can only give you country walks in springtime
And a hand to hold when leaves begin to fall;

And a love whose burning light
Will warm the winter's night
That's all, That's all.

There are those I am sure who have told you,

They would give you the world for a toy.

All I have are these arms to enfold you,
And a love time can never destroy.


If you're wondering what I'm asking in return, dear,
You'll be glad to know that my demands are small.
Say it's me that you'll adore,
For now and evermore
That's all,
That's all.

If you're wondering what I'm asking in return, dear,

You'll be glad to know that my demands are small.

Say it's me that you'll adore,
For now and evermore
That's all,
That's all.

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