While the English edition of RocketNews24 is primarily focused on Asia in general and Japan in particular, our Japanese-language sister site, Pouch, covers stories from around the world. Sometimes, the source information they work with is in English, so Pouch’s team members are always on the lookout for ways to brush up their language skills.
So we weren’t shocked to hear that one of Pouch’s writers, Marie, had recently gotten really into a new English-learning smartphone app. What did surprise us, though, was when we took a look at the phrases she was learning, including such nuggets as, “I just took a dump.”
To be fair, there’re a lot of admirable design elements to the app, called OKpanda English Every Day. Its sample conversations cover a wide variety of subjects, and they’re voiced by native speakers, which is always a plus for learners who stumble over English’s inconsistent spelling conventions.
▼ The list of themes, which includes friends, school, work, travel, romance, shopping, and slang.
Because so many phrases are included, there’s a function that allows you to make a list of phrases you’re working on, and then check them off as “learned” once you feel you’ve mastered them. There’s even a shadowing mode, which grades you on how well you repeat the phrases, and gives you a numerical score. Marie says her average is still only around 60, but on a couple of the phrases she’s particularly comfortable with, she’s recorded a perfect 100.
▼ Nice work, Marie!
Add in the fact that the app is free, and it sounds like an extremely generous package. Well, except for the fact that while there’s nothing wrong with the technical aspects of OKpanda’s English, the program seems to have about as firm a grasp on what makes for appropriate subject matter in human conversations as an actual panda does. For example, take a look at this.
We get that “take a dump” is one of those expressions that’s commonly used but not exactly schoolhouse-friendly, and so it often falls through the cracks of ordinary language courses. Still, we’re not sure you’d ever find yourself in a situation where you need to announce to someone “I just took a dump,” especially not with the sort of self-assured grin Joe Goatee is sporting up there.
Thankfully, some of the other phrases seem a little less graphic. For example, “move forward with (a plan)” is more like the sort of thing you’d have a chance to use in everyday, non-disgusting conversation.
▼ Although as we see here, grammatically it’s possible to shoehorn it into disgusting conversations too.
You know, we’re glad Joe Goatee and his pal Glasses McWavylocks are so secure in their friendship that they can openly discuss how long it’s been since they’ve dropped a deuce, plus which members of the animal kingdom are most desperately in need of some surgical sexifying. Really, it’s hard to find someone you can share that kind of information with and still be friends with, instead of them just going ahead and stabbing you in the pancreas right then and there based on the very large statistical possibility that you’re a dangerous psychopath who has to be stopped by any means necessary.
Okay, OKpanda, one more chance. Let’s see what you do with “I’m psyched.”
Hey, that was surprisingly…non-mentally scarring. We’re not sure about amping up the conversation’s difficulty by adding in a character who’s a woman disguised as a man (as we’ve never seen an actual adult male excitedly say “The Biebs!”), but aside from that odd wrinkle, this is a pretty straightforward, useful example of how to use a common phrase.
There might even be a bit of a method to OKpanda’s ample madness. Marie’s been getting plenty of chuckles from its random, zany conversations, which in turn has kept her coming back to the app and studying in order to help her get all the weird humor.
Whatever keeps you working away at the tough yet admirable goal of learning another language is a good thing in our books. So keep at it Marie! We’re looking forward to hearing about it the next time you take a dump.