Category Archives: Anglobubble

This wouldn’t happen in Australia: Hilary Clinton tries chanting in Spanish….

The headline is somewhat ironic. To win the presidential race in the United States, most hopefuls (Donald Trump is an exception) reach out to the Hispanic community – given its increasing weight in the electorate. So it is no wonder if Hilary Clinton works her Spanish when she can – to attract the Hispanic vote. Although she can’t speak it, at least she makes the effort to use it for symbolic effect, even if it seems she doesn’t always get it right.

Foxnews is happy to report Clinton’s mistakes under the headline How do you say ‘Fail’? Clinton bungles well-known Spanish-language chant. Her mistakes include changing the chant ‘Sì, si puede’ (Yes, we can) to ‘Sì, si pueda’ which Foxnews says is closer to ‘If one could’….
Oh but at least she’s trying, and that should be seen as a good thing (mistakes and all)….. You’d be very hard-pressed to find an Australian politician wanting to be filmed using anything other than English. Kevin Rudd got flack for speaking Chinese when he was Australia’s PM – he was accused by some politicians of being a show-off…. But then again Mitt Romney, past US presidential hopeful, was blasted by his own Republican competition, for speaking French before the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Go figure. Then again, there mustn’t have been any value at the time in getting French-speaking voters onside. There just aren’t enough of them to swing states.

Hilary Clinton

Great news story: Lupita Nyong’o: People magazine’s Most Beautiful Person of 2014 and language champion

One of the challenges for multilingualism and languages education in the Anglobubble  is motivating student interest outside of schools. One powerful solution is to connect languages with star power – in order to create global language champions that people feel connected to and can look up to.

Star power works: advertisers don’t pay big sums to big names in Hollywood and showbusiness for nothing. George Clooney’s leading the global Nespresso campaign has been hugely successful in increasing sales for his sponsor (too successful for some, but that’s another story….). Miranda Kerr gets paid big bucks to promote fabric softener in Japan. The list goes on….

Well, there was great news for languages today involving star power, although most Anglobubblers will be blissfully unaware of the link:  Lupita Nyong’o, glamourous Oscar-winning Hollywood star of “12 Years a Slave” (2013, 3 Oscars), was selected as People magazine’s Most Beautiful Person of 2014.

 

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Amongst her many talents (and there really are many) Lupita Nyong’o  speaks four languages: English, Luo, Spanish and Swahili. Her parents are Kenyan but she was born and partly raised in Mexico. Indeed she considers herself to be Mexican-Kenyan – seen most clearly in her name (Lupita: Mexican/Spanish, Nyong’o Kenyan/Luo). She’s also on record as calling herself Chilanga (the term used for people from Mexico City).

Here’s Lupita being interviewed in Spanish about her experience of Mexico:

 

Lupita’s story is an amazing one of success  (inc TV, film, documentary making….). Having four languages is no burden, it’s a blessing. Lupita is a marketer’s dream: English, Luo, Spanish and Swahili give incredible reach. Lupita taps into the Anglobubble, Latin America and Spain, Kenya and East Africa with ease. People in all of these areas connect with her.

It’s just a pity newsreaders in the Anglobubble struggle with pronouncing her name, as seen in this clip put together by Jimmy Kimmel Live:

 

 

Really? After all the film and media exposure, Oscar speeches?  That’s life in the Anglobubble 😉 ….

All in all, despite this hiccup, a great day for Lupita Nyong’o and for languages. Get the message out. Discuss it with your friends and students. There’s a lot to say, and we can change attitudes and get people learning and appreciating languages. It’s hard to resist star power.

To keep up with the Anglobubble, follow on twitter: JohnHajek_lang

 

 

My cups to the Cup Song: the cover song as a great motivational learning tool in any language

Coláiste Lurgan, whose work I have profiled in the last 2 posts as a shining example of how to motivate language learning, has a lot of offer us by using famous cover songs reworked in the target language.

In addition to Avicii’s ‘Wake me up’ in Gaelic (see my Wake me up post about that great clip), one other Lurgan reworking has had the same amount of amazing global viral success (i.e. millions of hits): it’s the Cup Song in Gaelic shown below.

The Cup Song, otherwise known as ‘When I’m gone’ (Cups), is a recent reworking of a country classic from 1931 that appears in the recent teen smash movie ‘Pitch Perfect’. The new version sung by Anna Kendrick in the movie includes lots of people doing clever syncopated tapping using cups, glasses, whatever… Of course kids already know all about it and love it (hey it’s different!). So you can imagine how much fun it is for the kids at Coláiste Lurgan. Click here and see for yourself:

 


Amhrán na gCupán
(That’s Gaelic for ‘Cup Song’)

It’s got everything: sound, movement, coordination, great song…. Kids are immediately connected to their own popular culture (originally experienced in English), but are fascinated and motivated by the opportunity to experience it and, this is critical, to produce it themselves in another language, This song is especially good because of the need for group discipline, and physical coordination as well as the combination of a range of senses (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic…). There’s also the opportunity for kids to sing together and separately – and to be filmed and to be seen posted online. Kids today want to be visible

No wonder the kids at the end of the Gaelic version are so happy! It really works and language teachers could easily do the same everywhere.

There are thousands of clips on youtube about how to tap glasses/cups correctly – in a range of languages.  It’s also been covered in a range of different languages too…..

There are so many ways a teacher could approach this song as a learning activity. Here are just a few ideas.

There are lots of clips online – in different languages – about how to do the cups. Use those or do your own.

Create the necessary instructional vocab for your kids – model it for them

Get them to help translate the original text into the target language but make sure the final translation is grammatically accurate.

Get your music teacher involved. Get the kids to play the music. Or buy the backing track on iTunes. make sure all kids sing at some point. All instruction should be in the target language.

Do it for school assembly, language day, concert night, video it (with happy faces) and post it…. Tell the kids to send it around. Make language learning visible!

Let your colleagues know about this post. See what they think about the embedded clip – the reaction is always positive.

Try the Cup Song with your kids and let me know (with video proof) how it went 🙂

 

Coláiste Lurgan – you rock! A role model for language learning everywhere.

In my previous post ‘Wake me up..’ I talked in detail about an unexpected challenge to the Anglobubble that has gone viral and helped to change entrenched attitudes to language learning. I posted a great clip of Avicii’s ‘Wake me up’ sung in translation by hundreds of excited and happy language learners. I have watched and played that clip many times over. It’s not just the kids’ enthusiasm, the production values are great and that certainly helps. I didn’t reveal the language or the country other than the fact the latter is deep in the Anglobubble (despite having its own national language).

Time for the big reveal: the language is Irish Gaelic, and it’s Ireland of course (the Irish dancing was the giveaway). But the mouse that roared that’s behind the music phenomenon is Coláiste Lurgan – a summer residential school for kids. They’ve been translating hit songs from English and getting their students (and teachers) to sing, record and film them for a few years now.

Their great work has really taken off in the last 12 months – with a number of viral clips – millions of hits and growing. Why exactly has it taken off right now? Well, a number of reasons come to mind. Most of the first Gaelic clips were revoiced versions of the original clips sung in English, i.e. the original visual (e.g. Lady Gaga singing) was kept but the soundtrack replaced. They have increasingly shifted to high quality filming of the kids singing – you not only hear their voices, you see them front and centre – often with a little choreography. They now also have a big repertoire of famous covers so you can just keep exploring! And clearly there’s the power of word of mouth and social media. All of these factors make a huge difference!

The kids really shine – and their enthusiasm and discipline are irresistible. All of a sudden Gaelic and language learning  are cool. These kids really are role models for young language learners in the Anglobubble everywhere.

Some of my favourites are included here. It’s hard to believe but I enjoy them more in Gaelic than in English – because I don’t know what’s being sung! Bastille had a huge international hit with ‘Pompeii. But I like the plaintive lead vocal from one of the teachers in the glorious Gaelic version seen here:

 

The clip has been so successful that when it was uploaded on the web it was competing with Will and Kate for top spot on Youtube.  How cool is that! That’s a great motivator for students  and teacher involved, I’m sure.

After American superstars Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had a massive hit with the super upbeat ‘Can’t hold us‘, they heard about the Irish version and were so intrigued they asked to be included in the video – speaking Gaelic. Again how cool is that! Here’s Can’t hold us in Gaelic.

There are lots of others given the Lurgan treatment, e.g. Lady Gaga, Passenger, Lion King, Abba,  Michael Jackson. Even ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke and co-workers gets  reworked by our Gaelic learning and loving kids as An Laisc Is Mó.

 

 

I have no idea what they are singing but I know they’re plugging in to the zietgeist and loving it.

This stuff really works to motivate language learning. We need to use it. See my previous blog for some ideas on how. And tell your friends. Try it yourself!

More soon 🙂