Alien Languages - Bilingual Children's Books
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Stuff and Nonsense

 

“My brother has been observing the slugs since he got divorced”, “The mayor tried to circumnavigate the law and got many shower caps”, “Please signal with your nose hair when it hurts”


Are these the ramblings of a deranged mind?


Not necessarily.


They are in fact the work of Nakayama-san, otherwise known as @NICE_TOEIC, the creator of “Non-essential English Vocabulary: Words that will never come up in tests”. Nakayama has become a Twitter sensation, posting daily an array of lexically incongruous phrases for Japanese learners of English.  This is far removed from the traditional (and, let’s face it, sometimes dull) sentences that populate modern language textbooks;  the lengthy stories of Michelle et Pierre who spend an inordinate amount of time discussing their choice of fruit during an unnaturally exciting visit to the supermarché. Whilst Nakayama’s phrases may be no more realistic, they contain that essential ingredient in any second language learning: fun.


Being truly bilingual requires a total immersion in another language and culture. This doesn’t just mean buying bananas and pineapples in that language, however exciting that may be, it’s knowing how to change a plug, go skiing, play poker. In other words, there is a whole host of arcane vocabularies which never appear on many learners’ radars simply because, “Doctor, the bag split and macadamia nuts spilled on the duodenum!” isn’t a set of words that crops up every day. With his Twitter feed, Nakayama is munificently generating opportunities for learners to come into contact with these unknown words and widen their English vocabulary.


It’s certainly an interesting approach. Engaging learners in any subject is critical and with over 100 new followers every day, Nakayama is keeping the English language commendably fresh for his students.  For the Japanese, finding themselves speechless before a broken bag of nuts, devoid of the right words to draw it to the doctor’s attention, need never happen again.