CLOSE

Learning English Through Awkward Aerobics in 1992

The year was 1992. People were doing questionable Wayne and Garth impressions. Ross Perot kept popping in and out of the presidential race. And far away in Japan, a man by the improbable name of Fernandez Verde combined English language instruction with awkward aerobic movements to create the early morning TV show Eikaiwa taisō Zuiikin' English, which roughly translates to English Conversation Gymnastics Exercises Voluntary Muscles English. The 24-episode series aired at 5 a.m. on Fuji Television alongside other low-budget alternative programming.

The premise of Zuiikin' English was simple. Native Japanese speakers could learn conversational English more easily if they associated language with movement, a theory backed up by cognitive research. Verde also believed that different cultures should target unique sets of muscles for maximum learning — the lower back and leg muscles, in the case of the Japanese. (This appears to be Verde's own idea, though we wonder what muscles Americans would be assigned.)

Each themed episode began with a brief introduction by Verde, followed by a subtitled skit introducing English phrases and a "commonly used" English sentence, like "How dare you say such a thing to me?" or "It's your fault that this happened." The sentence was then chanted repeatedly by a trio called the Zuiikin Gals, who performed unique movements to go along with each word.

But wait, it's funnier than it sounds.

Eventually the lessons branched out into pop culture ... and even Spanish.

Alas, Zuiikin' English was broadcast too early to capture an audience. Or rather, a regular audience. Fuji Television soon cancelled the program, but began showing reruns in 2005. In its second run, the show became an international sensation. Its bizarre lessons still confound and amuse us today.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
language
How to Say Merry Christmas in 26 Different Languages
iStock
iStock

“Merry Christmas” is a special greeting in English, since it’s the only occasion we say “merry” instead of “happy.” How do other languages spread yuletide cheer? Ampersand Travel asked people all over the world to send in videos of themselves wishing people a “Merry Christmas” in their own language, and while the audio quality is not first-rate, it’s a fun holiday-themed language lesson.

Feel free to surprise your friends and family this year with your new repertoire of foreign-language greetings.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
language
How Often Is 'Once in a Blue Moon'? Let Neil deGrasse Tyson Explain
iStock
iStock

From “lit” to “I can’t even,” lots of colloquialisms make no sense. But not all confusing phrases stem from Millennial mouths. Take, for example, “once in a blue moon”—an expression you’ve likely heard uttered by teachers, parents, newscasters, and even scientists. This term is often used to describe a rare phenomenon—but why?

Even StarTalk Radio host Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t know for sure. “I have no idea why a blue moon is called a blue moon,” he tells Mashable. “There is nothing blue about it at all.”

A blue moon is the second full moon to appear in a single calendar month. Astronomy dictates that two full moons can technically occur in one month, so long as the first moon rises early in the month and the second appears around the 30th or 31st. This type of phenomenon occurs every couple years or so. So taken literally, “Once in a blue moon” must mean "every few years"—even if the term itself is often used to describe something that’s even more rare.

[h/t Mashable]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios