Fun with English and Music Videos

I’ve been very busy in recent weeks taking a course in “Teaching English as a Second Language” and trying to prepare for teaching English to the kids in ChangXing Primary school. This is a challenge given that I don’t know exactly which grade I will teach (1st through 5th grade are possible) or what level of English the kids will have.

MTV (Millspaugh Tries Video)

I’ve had a lot of fun creating music videos of some popular children’s songs, on the assumption that singing will be a fun way to get them speaking English. So I fired up my VideoStudio application and came up with a music video based on the popular song “Wheels on the Bus.” I used Raffi’s version of the song, as my whole family has always enjoyed his music since we discovered him during my son Michael’s youth. Thanks much to Jessie Duanmu, our volunteer coordinator in Shanghai, who is an experienced school teacher, for her valuable suggestions for improving the video.

English Insanity (Out-sanity?)

As my focus has shifted from learning Mandarin to learning English, it’s been very interesting to consider the difficulties of our language. I think the following poem, which came from one of my course textbooks, expresses it well:

English, Asylum for the Verbally Insane
(author unknown)

We’ll begin with a box, and plural is boxes,
but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet,
and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and whole set are teeth,
why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
and the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
but though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his, and him,
but imagine the feminine, she shis, and shim.

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no
egg in eggplant or ham in hamburger; neither apple nor
pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England.
We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing,
grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends
but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the lunacy of a language in which your
house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form
by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

So if Dad is Pop, how come Mom isn’t Mop?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *