For my Mom, who loves loves loves the Sound of Music. And for Carolyn, who is expecting her first great-grandbaby any day now. Happy Mother’s Day to you both, and all you other fabulous moms out there!
Last month, just before leaving on our super-fantastic adventure to South Africa & Lesotho, my little lunchtime English class turned four years old. Four years, wow! There aren’t many jobs I’ve wanted to hold onto for four years in a row before. Who knew that the trick was making sure I worked for free?
We started studying The Sound of Music back in January, and we’ve only just now reached My Favorite Things, not even an hour into the movie. Which turned out to be a real challenge to teach. Maria makes several references to winter activities—warm woolen mittens, snowflakes, silver-white winters that melt into springs—that just don’t make much sense here in equatorial Africa. Even after translating the words into French to make them easier to understand, they weren’t any easier to understand. Someone thought they had seen un traîneau (a sleigh) once, but it was just a children’s toy. I tried to explain it could also be a real vehicle pulled by horses over snow. At that point all eyes glazed over.
So I’m currently teaching to the tune of The Sound of Music in my ESL class. It’s a little reward for my students—though I suppose my use of that word depends on whether you like the musical or not—after having followed strict grammar lessons for more than a year. It took us that long to get through the whole series of Michel Thomas’ Apprendre Anglais. Which was a great experience. But it’s one thing to practice drills, quite another to listen to a movie in a foreign language and be able to follow along.
I knew my students were itching to try out their new Anglophile ears, so I took a look through my DVD library. The Sound of Music was an easy choice. The language is fairly slow, simple, easy to understand; it’s semi-religious which is a big hit around here; it can hardly be considered inappropriate, at least as some of our other movies might; and the catchy songs are bound to stick in your head. (For months on end… trust me.) What better way to rehearse vocabulary and word combinations over and over again than with a song stuck inside your head?? Continue reading