Does this really mean that?

I recently read an article that argued that using a common platform known by both a teacher and a student can help ease the flow of knowledge between them. The example used was teaching mathematics using money as the platform. The idea is that a student will have a base knowledge about the platform, money in this example, and will be able to use the their knowledge of the platform to frame the new information that they are being taught. This idea made me think about how languages are taught.

In my first semester of studying German my professor took us all out for dinner as a way to teach us the German words for food items. I think that this concept is used a lot in teaching students vocabulary.

However, I am curious if it can be used to teach common phrases.

The problem that I have is that I believe that the wording of phrases changes drastically between languages. An excellent example of this is McDonalds wrappers. My dad, who studied French for 20 years, pointed out the other day that McDonalds famous phrase “I’m Lovin” It? does not always translate directly to that. In fact, he said that, likely, whoever wrote the French version of the phrase on the box would’ve had to use the language daily to understand the difference. You can translate the slogan directly to French, he says, but no one would say it that way.

It’s clear that the wording of phrases changes based on your language and culture. So why are we teaching language students to just say things the same way but change each word from one language to another?

Is there a better way to teach language than to tie it to a platform that the student already knows? I think that teachers will have to find a way to teach cultural preferences while teaching a language or else students may never actually become fluent.”

David Hilborn

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