Italian, Dog, Yoga. Or start them with languages when they’re little coz it’s cool and it works…….

One of my favourite videos at the moment is a simple clip about a one on one yoga class in Italian – with a twist. It’s a great tool to generate interest in and discussion about language issues in the Anglobubble.

The clip in question has gone viral in the English-speaking world – in 10 weeks since upload it’s had more than 2 million views and generated media coverage around the world. I have also started showing it at talks and presentations  – because it’s easy to watch and because it’s a humorous good news story about bilingualism, and languages (in this case: Italian).

It is all packaged in such a way that it’s a marketer’s dream: in this case Italian is made modern, sexy, and hip (think: tattoos, yoga, bearded instructor and a little sidekick who steals the show). Hipsters everywhere will be asking to do their yoga in Italian, once they have seen this clip.

 

The reaction of audiences I have shown it to is always positive – it’s hard not to get a laugh, as people try and understand what exactly Nic the instructor is saying to his mate, Pancho (he calls him Panchino – Little Pancho at the end – Spanish root + Italian ending), as Pancho does his yoga moves in return.

You can get an idea about the reaction in the media by the wording of these 2 links:

http://www.mamamia.com.au/rogue/watch-dog-does-yoga-understands-italian/

http://www.newnownext.com/downward-dog-sexy-italian-and-his-pooch-do-yoga-together-watch/08/2013/

So how can we use the clip to think about languages in the Anglobubble? Here are some simple thoughts and points – many with humorous intent:

(1) The clip went viral in the English-speaking world – not in Italy where they seem to think this is more normal – hehe. We’re intrigued even if we don’t know exactly what’s going on. As we watch, we logically try to connect what the dog is doing with the instructions – in an effort to try to understand what the instructor says. As we sit there, many of us think ‘I wish I knew what he was saying….’.

English-speakers are interested in other languages, if it’s done in a way that engages them and stimulates interest.

(2) It shows you that anyone and everyone, including little dogs, can be bilingual: Pancho is fluent in Chihuahua and Italian. If a Chihuahua can do it, then why can’t we all be at least bilingual in the Anglobubble?

(3) It can be used, as I have done, to address the question of when Australian children should start learning another language in school? My answer: it’s best to start when they are little. Pancho’s the proof.

In many parts of the Anglobubble, including parts of Australia, children do not receive language instruction in schools until relatively late – often as late as secondary school. We know – from direct experience – that little minds are huge language sponges. The task is much easier for children (and educators) the younger they are. They also get sooner the additional benefits of language learning, e.g. cognitive improvement, improved social understanding and awareness, etc….

(4) The clip is also a classic example of the value of CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) – alongside direct instruction. Here yoga (content) is integrated with Italian (language) – so you get a much bigger bang for your buck. Not only do you get the language benefit you get the sport and health benefits as well.

For principals concerned about the Crowded Curriculum, here’s a great way to save time by bringing together Language, Sport and Health Sciences!

(5) You can also use the clip to stimulate discussion with your students – there’s lots to say and ask. You might then get your students to think about what they might do to create a similar clip that would promote whatever language they were learning. Get them to make a clip – and see if it too can go viral.

(6) If you teach Italian (like I do!) it’s a dream piece of material for promotion as well. But it’s great promotion for all languages. Good marketing potential (as I have explained above) is the key.

(7) Oh, dogs doing yoga really is true. It’s called Doga – and there really are Doga classes – just go online for more information.