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Rappers E-40 and Tech N9ne try their hands as English teachers

on February 25, 2011, 12:00pm

Rhymefest is trying to be a Chicago Alderman, 50 Cent is a business mogul, and now rappers E-40 and Tech N9ne are…. English teachers? Thanks to the savvy crew over at EnglishBaby.com, it looks like that’s really the case (via HipHopDX).

English, Baby! takes a pretty interesting approach to teaching English to foreign language speakers. By using popular culture like movies, sports, and music as an attention grabber, they seek to not only introduce language learners to various aspects of American culture, but actually teach them about common English slang, idioms, phrases, and the like.

Some of their most recent lessons feature the aforementioned artists in brief interviews in which they discuss and define certain phrases as they relate to their own lives. For example, E-40 explains what revenue retrieving, day shift, and night shift mean. But why this man for those phrases? His last double disc was called Revenue Retrieving: Day Shift/Revenue Retrieving: Night Shift. Makes a bit of sense now, doesn’t it? Tech N9ne details the idiom “far out” in such a way that actually exemplifies the definition (“Far Out” was a track title on his last release).

The site also has clips of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony members Layzie Bone and Flesh-n-Bone explaining what “Crossroads” are, “Weird Al” Yankovic talking about the various meanings of “grow up” while pushing his new children’s book, When I Grow Up, and Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin discussing “against the grain,” amongst many other celebrities and phrases. The clips are all worth watching beyond their semantical value, as they delve into the artists’ connection to the language they discuss.

Engish, Baby! is just as interested in making viewers laugh as it is teaching them a thing or two, so the question remains: do these videos actually work as lessons? Incidentally, my days are spent standing in classrooms filled with Brazilians, Japanese, Turks, Saudis, and even a few Africans: I am an honest-to-Gosh ESL teacher. While I’ve only just learned of the site and thus never used it, I can certainly see the value here.

Will I use this stuff in my classroom? Maybe, if the class topic fits the site’s lessons. I’ll be sure to let you all here at CoS know how that goes if/when it happens. Until then, go learn something, and watch how “far out” Tech N9ne is below.

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