Why Teach Foreign Words in English?

In my latest vocabulary lesson on YouTube, I teach eight foreign words used in English. The lesson was partly inspired by a conversation I overhead at the hairdresser’s. One woman called out to the other as she was leaving, “Call me sometime next week. We’ll have a tête-à-tête.” It’s not the first time my ESL-attuned ear thought about the language people used around me. In this case, I noted how the woman’s pronunciation was different from mine. Do you say “tet uh tet” or “tayt uh tayt”? I use the first variation, but the woman at the hairdresser’s used the second. Maybe you say it in a completely different way.

Foreign words pop up in different contexts. This summer one might read or hear that a restaurant offers alfresco dining. In my video I referred to the well-known carpe diem scene in the film Dead Poets Society. Are our students prepared to understand these borrowed words? Well, if a word is borrowed from their own language, there won’t be any confusion. But if they don’t know any German, then a funny anecdote about a doppelgänger may fly right over their heads.

I limited my selections to eight, and I offer writing practice at the end of my video. If you wish to extend learning and include speaking practice, please consider my Foreign Words in English_handout.

Enjoy! Ciao!

Photo credit: World, Flags, Nations, Three D, 3d by GDJ. Retrieved from the Public Domain at https://pixabay.com/en/world-flags-nations-three-d-3d-2747353/.

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