Forget Rosetta Stone, language immersion or university classes. I have a fool proof way to easily and happily learn German: Hard core Franco-Prussian pornography.
This is not my idea.
My Israeli friend chuckled when I told him the only German I know: Schnell. It means “faster,” and I learned it from Hogan’s Heroes, the 70’s (actually, 1965-1971) TV show that I watched religiously. So my mom and dad’s negligent TV babysitter approach to parenting actually was a brilliant way for me to learn a new language. I can barely remember the six years of school Spanish, but I can “mach schnell!” (much faster!) with the best of them.
Language acquisition is easiest, of course, when we are young. Experts say that children’s brains are plastic: They have the capacity to change and grow in remarkable ways. This is how kids learn, and the brain flexibility allows for their quick uptake of new information and the ability to process this data swiftly and then apply it to the outside world. The time when scientists believe plasticity slows and then stops keeps getting pushed back: It is now around 22-years old.
On the other side, the slow decline of the brain with aging, there is also the notion of plasticity. Studies show that the more we exercise our brains, the slower or even arresting of our cognitive decline. Crossword puzzles, using your nondominant hand for common tasks such as brushing teeth, being social and continuing to learn, writing and reading in challenging ways all contribute to exercising the brain. Learning a new language fits perfectly into this scheme.
Which brings me back to German porn. My Israeli friend said he learned his German from weekends in the army. The guys would sit around and watch German porn movies. And learn schnell, schnell. Which was a real asset, he told me, if you also happened to have a German girlfriend.
So an announcement to my wife and everybody else: That hard core German porn that I will be watching in Basel is in the service of learning the language, bettering myself as an ambassador for America, becoming an international citizen and giving my brain one hell of a workout. Use it or lose it.