One of the many new year’s resolutions I make every year and break without fail is to brush up on foreign languages.
I speak some Arabic and Italian from living in Egypt and Italy many moons ago and have made various holiday endeavours to pick up Spanish and French. I could order couscous or a paella and talk about the weather, but for business use learning languages is a different game entirely. Ordering the wrong pasta dish might be a tad annoying but losing a contract by misinterpreting a clients’ needs would be another matter.
The idea of trawling through lists of vocab and verb tables – honourable as it may seem on New Year’s Eve – soon loses its allure after 10 minutes of trying at the end of a hard day’s work to take in vocab sheets.
So, I was quite raptured by the image that came across my email last week from Whitstable languages teacher Roger Curtis.
Roger, a mild mannered man with a zen-like aura, has turned himself into “Manic Teacher,” donning a wild black wig balancing a mortarboard, bushy red beard, and cloak.
It’s all in the cause of providing distance learning courses that won’t send you to sleep. Roger – who has mastered Russian, Spanish, Italian, French and German – is offering the first two lessons for free to show people they can learn languages without it becoming too onerous.
Dressed in full manic regalia for the Kent Business Bunker show on Channel Radio last week, Roger explained the thinking behind his alter ego: “It’s true that you do need to repeat, repeat , repeat, say it aloud and write it down to absorb a language,’’ says Roger. “I do give lists, but the most important thing is to have a go by taking part in role plays. People are frightened to have a go in a foreign country, so it’s good to get in some practice back at home.”
Little and often is the best way to study a new language, says Roger. “I look for my students to take in whatever media they see out there in the language they’re learning. Speaking for 10 to 15 minutes a few times a week, whether it’s through music or conversation, is the best way.
See manic teacher at www.manicteacher.co.uk
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