Foreign language instruction has grown by leaps and bounds as the benefits of the communicative approach have made themselves felt far and wide. At the same time, language instructors pay lip service to the importance of cultural factors in language education and intercultural communication. However, only our service thoroughly and consistently applies the important insights of cultural factors to language instruction. Take, for example, the common practice of “face-to-face” instruction. While this is ideally suited to cultures like China and Japan that place great emphasis upon saving face, it is useless for learning the nuances of language use in brasher, more direct cultures like the US. Thus, we provide culturally appropriate “man-to-man” instruction for our students seeking to master US English and succeed in the American business world.
Our select courses include:
Man-to-Man English: A Japanese businessman of our acquaintance once told us that in his first week as a consultant for an American company that chose to advertise its wares in Japan in a culturally inappropriate fashion, he expressed his thorough-going opposition to the move by saying that it was perhaps not entirely the approach best suited to a culture less in favor of public expressions of bathroom humor. Needless to say, his American colleagues took this as a bright green light and crashed and burned within three months. In his next job, he took the lesson to heart and explained that their idea was “as full of crap as an outhouse and as stupid as a lobotomized hamster,” and with this mid-course correction the company went on to make millions. If only he had taken our Man-to-Man English course, he would have spoken the language in a culturally appropriate manner from the beginning and saved certain shareholders a bundle!
Mano-a-mano Spanish: Have you ever watched telenovelas and marveled at how even the matriarchs of the families slap their servants silly? Have you ever pondered the popularity of lucha libre and the exploits of Martin Fierro? Have you ever wondered how you could succeed in a language and culture that so highly prizes honor and knocks your lights out if you step on anyone’s toes? More than that, why would you try to learn a language in which verbal dexterity and literary skill is considered as equally valid a form of machismo as defeating a bonaerense stevedore in fisticuffs? If you dare, you too could join the rarefied brotherhood or sisterhood of those who fight hard both verbally and physically and prevail in both spheres like El Cid. Act now to take the first step to participate in a culture in which separation and defeat are like having your fingernails torn out at the roots, and victory...not. (Please note that this course has extra athletic training fees.)
Manie-à-manie French: The French take their ideas seriously—however detached from reality those ideas may seem to people from other countries. Theirs is a culture saturated with Descartes that actually liked to listen to Sartre’s voice as much as he himself did. You will not succeed in gaining the true French spirit if you take a piecemeal, empirical approach to language, for language ideally is the expression of thought itself. Thus, with Manie-à-manie French, you start with the fundamental laws of thought and follow Condillac’s analysis of the human mind to derive the French tense and aspect system from first principles. The Existentialists then follow; after realizing the futility of human action and the importance of an arbitrary commitment, you will then not only understand but accept the French system of grammatical gender: Yes, it is senseless, but it is no more senseless than anything else in the world, and thorough-going, unflinching commitment to it regardless of its nonsensicality is what the French themselves have settled on as constituting a great part of the meaning of their language and culture.
Mangia-mangia! Italian: Italians speak with their hands and show love with food—and little old grandmothers have the tastiest expressions of love. Enroll in this course and you will be paired with your own individual nonna, who will wine and dine you into a fluent conversationalist. Note: Our contract with the Italian Cultural Consulate, which provides the nonne, forbids the teaching of phrases such as sono pieno and non posso mangiare di più. Students can expect to gain up to ten kilos, and The Mann de Man Language Institute will not be held responsible for any resulting pasta overdose.
慢到慢 (Màn-dào-màn) Chinese: Don’t even think about learning Chinese quickly. With 5,000 years of recorded history, and three or four times that many characters in the world’s most venerable writing system, not to mention epic levels of homophony due to a very limited syllable inventory, you will just have to plan to take it slowly. The Mongols and the Manchus tried to speed up their acquisitions, and look how long their cultures lasted.
Manche-zu-manche German: Our least popular course is taught by our least popular instructors to our least popular students, students who will probably learn some German, but probably not a lot. Possibly not enough. But with all those pointlessly confusingly and overlapping cases, who cares? Just save yourself the hassle and take a different course. Everyone in Germany already speaks English anyway.