Celebrity English lessons on English, baby! teach global youth new slang
Portland, O.R. -July 19, 2010
Sheryl Crow's latest album, 100 Miles From Memphis, drops this week and thanks to an interview the star did with englishbaby.com, her fans overseas will grasp some of the language on it they might have missed otherwise.
On a recent tour stop, the nine-time Grammy award winner was asked by the website--which, with more than 1.5 million members spanning every country, is the largest online network of people learning English around the world--to give a quick lesson for their cameras. Crow explains the meaning of the phrase "eye to eye," which is the title of a track from the record featuring Keith Richards.
Crow is only the latest of an on-going series of celebrities who, via English, baby!, have helped their foreign fan base pick up some new English slang. Since last year, nine NBA players from eight teams have offered a piece of authentic basketball lingo on the site, which is most popular in China, where the NBA has as many fans as it does stateside. Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets, who was one of the first American players to endorse a Chinese shoe company, teaches "buzzer beater." Channing Frye, who the Phoenix Suns recently signed to a $30 million contract, discusses the term "breakthrough" and hard-won successes both on and off the court.
"People around the world are eager to speak like American celebrities," says English, baby! co-founder and CEO John Hayden, "so they do their best to infer from movies and songs. We're working to accelerate the process for these students of popular culture by having stars explain slang directly."
The approach is certainly gaining attention. Media in roughly a dozen countries have covered the unique English lessons, including outlets such as the LA Times in the US. A pair of lesson videos with Zao Hongbo and Shen Xue, figure skating gold medalists from this year's Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, have received more than 100,000 views on the Chinese YouTube equivalent, 56.com.
"We continue to be humbled and amazed by the willingness of stars like Sheryl Crow and others we've interviewed to take a few minutes to help the world learn English," says Hayden whose website also counts test preparation help, live tutoring and daily lesson mp3s among its features, some of which are paid. The celebrity lessons are offered gratis so fans of the star who are unfamiliar with the site can get their learn on too. "I mean, who could forget a bit of slang you picked up from your favorite singer or athlete?"
About English, baby!
Founded in 2000, English, baby!, set out to teach English to the world in an innovative MTV-style manner, virtually immersing students in American culture and conversational English. Social networking features were introduced in 2006 and growth surged. Englishbaby.com is now the largest social network for English learners.
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