In the Forward, Mason Lerner recently suggested teaching students a foreign language by showing them trashy B-movies. Specifically, he recommends teaching Hebrew by showing students the 1978 Israeli film Eskimo Limon, which is such trash its plot summary on Wikipedia defies (or perhaps doesn't merit) description. This is no doubt similar to those who learn Spanish from telenovelas.
Ultimately, the key appears to be closed captioning in the same language, a topic that was discussed in a recent Ideas piece by Riddhi Shah. That, and making sure whatever you're watching is entertaining.
And if learning the language is too complicated, you can always still provide entertainment, such as this Flight of the Conchords music video, using what appears to be the sum total of the first day of French class:
The author is solely responsible for the content.
Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.
Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.
Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.