Monday, June 22, 2009

Getting Dear Ole Dad into Foreign Language Learning

Happy Father’s Day – Feliz Dia del Padre

If you’re a Dad, then “Happy Father’s Day”.

Speaking of Father’s Day, where does your Father or Grandfather stand in regards to foreign language learning and fluency? Too many people think, “My Dad’s to old or set in his ways or “old fashioned” and wouldn’t be interested in learning another language.

Oh, really?

That’s not what I keep hearing from some surprisingly elderly dads. Unless father dear is incapacitated for some reason, you might just be surprised at his response – if you ask, that is.

So what ever in the world could my dad ever do with a foreign language, anyway?

Sometimes he hardly wants to leave the house nowadays

But Baby, It’s COLD Outside

I’ll a lot of times he says that the weather out is abysmal. You don’t to go out in it either, now do you? What’s the weather like in Acapulco, though? (One of my favoreite elderly-friendly towns) What about the sights in Spring-all-year-round Quito, another favored haunt of mine that I’ll be visiting very soon, by the way. Barcelona is nice too at this time of the year, but by August you’ll be able to “fry an egg on the sidewalk”. (Yes you can actually watch them do it on the local TV news during August)

Foreign Language Travel Abroad for Dad (or Mom)

Dad travel abroad? Sure, why not? Especially if he’s not THAT old. Certainly he’d enjoy the local environment a lot more by mastering a few phrases in the local lingo. Okay, so maybe he’ll never address congress in a foreign tongue, but then that’s really not the point, now is it?

Why not try a foreign language phrase book with an accompanying CD or cassette tapes as a truly different Father’s Day gift?

What language”, you ask?

Well, he’s YOUR dad, isn’t he? If you have no idea ask where he’s “dreamed” of traveling to. An Irish Pub? A South American fishing trip? A French Canadian wilderness fly-in? Lolling on a beach in Puerto Rico or Martinique? Shopping for antiques in Quito? (A great place to do just that, by the way) A gentle prod in the right direction by gifting dad with a foreign language primer that will take him at least that much closer to his dream getaway might just be the thing to get some of the ole juices flowing and exercise his mind to greater mental acuity. That certainly beats just sitting in a lounge chair and watching fishing shows filmed in exotic locations every week.

Eating in a Foreign Language

How about dad’s tastes in food? How about some freshly-prepared Chinese food – in China? Or a Mediterranean Diet starting off in Barcelona? (In case you haven’t guessed, I happen to like Barcelona) Do you think” dear ole dad” would like to try a cup of deliciously mild Colombian coffee – in Bogota, tropical Cali or perhaps Cartagena? How about some great manicottipanetoni or rigatoni, but in Rome? The possibilities are almost literally endless: Roti in Trinidad, Pepper Pot in Guyana, Conch salad in the Caribbean, Fufu and soup in West Africa (you can throw in a glass of Palm wine with that too), a nice steaming bowl of Ajiaco in Colombia or a plate of Guatita in Ecuador, Kimchee in Korea, Ratatouille or Boulliabaise in France and so on, etc.

Hey, it would definitely work for me!

How Dad Can Learn ANY Foreign Language

So what’s a good way for dad to get started with a foreign language that would be interesting, fun and easy for him to sink his teeth into? There are several quick starts that might prove to be useful which include:

• An internet online language learning website
• A phrase book with CDs or cassettes
• A short course at a local community college or language institute
• A personal foreign language tutor each week once or twice weekly
• Watching a TV program or two each week in the target foreign language
• A televised foreign language TV program or videocassette series
• A combination of two, three or more of these methods

Unique, Special Father’s Day Gifts

So if you find the typical Father’s Day gifts boring, reppetitious or contrite, especially for the man who’s seen and done so much so far, consider a real change in your thinking this year and next year too. It’s a safe bet you’ll likely be surprised at your Father’s reaction to the whole concept. Try it and see.

And by the way, be sure to give your Dad my best Father’s Day wishes too while you’re at it.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker (also a Dad). He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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