Keeping Up with Linguistics

There it was, a brief little blip at the end of an article I was reading online and for the first time in months, I was interested enough to click it. The ad was all about learning to speak a foreign language in 10 days. This I had to see! I studied French in high school and for a couple of years in college and I had to see what gimmick these folks had up their sleeves.

When I clicked on the link, it was actually interesting. The ad was done in such a way as to keep my interest and really make me wonder if there was something to this method of learning foreign language that they were promoting. I sent my husband a quick email with the link, so he could check it out as well. Soon he had three children crowded around his computer as he watched the ad (notice they weren’t gathered around me). Matthew and Greta were hooked instantly and Michael kept listening in, even though he was supposed to be doing homework. All three kids started talking about all the languages they wanted to learn. Matthew has about five he has picked. Michael still insists on learning Latin. Greta makes up her own languages, so linguistics is something that always gets her interest.

Like the good family protector that he is, my husband began doing so investigative work on this Pimsleur method of learning a foreign language. As it turns out, it has quite a good track record. A little more research and he soon discovered the problem, according to recent users, the program is awesome, but it is still using the original recordings. What you learn is based on casual conversation of 30 years ago. Let me put it to you this way – you have a presentation to do in Italy, but you don’t know a single word of Italian. You get the Pimsleur program and according to these modern customers, it’s like learning Italian Brady Bunch style when everyone in your presentation knows Italian Modern Family style. That’s a pretty big difference.

The method is great, but apparently, it hasn’t kept up with the times. New words are added to our dictionaries every year. You can only imagine what is happening to the dictionaries of other languages. Think about how many words have been added over a period of 30 years!

So I learned a valuable lesson. There is nothing wrong with tried and true methods, as long as they keep up with the vernacular of the day. This is good news for me, since I tend to be old fashioned in many ways, but with a modern twist. Don’t throw out something old, because it appears to be outdated. Take a look and see how well it has worked over the years, and see if you, by some chance, are the one to update it so it can keep helping people for years to come.

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