Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LiveMocha and the Bald Soprano

Last week I signed up for LiveMocha, a language learning site. Like Rosetta Stone, it teaches you vocabulary through flash cards and other exercises. Its strength, however, is the way it connects you with LiveMocha members who speak the language that you want to learn (and it's free).

Unfortunately I don't think anything can make learning the basics of a language more exciting. Slogging through phrases like "She wore a dress yesterday but today she is wearing jeans, the man is taller than the boy" reminds me of an absurdist play I once saw as part of a French class assignment, The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco , which begins:
MRS. SMITH: "There, it's nine o'clock. We've drunk the soup, and eaten the fish and chips, and the English salad. The children have drunk English water. We've eaten well this evening. That's because we live in the suburbs of London and because our name is Smith."
Ionesco used phrases from The English French Conversation Manual For Beginners as dialogue for part of the play, as he explained in an interesting essay that you can read (most of) here. He was also originally going to call the play English Made Easy.
Wikipedia has a nice summary of The Bald Soprano.

No comments: