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Growing Up with Weird Al Yankovic

It’s funny that Al Yankovic’s new book for children is called When I Grow Up, because when I was a kid, I pretty much wanted to be Weird Al when I grew up. I remember the first time I saw the “Amish Paradise” video on TV. I thought I had lost my mind. I simply could not believe something so cool and hilarious could exist and be on TV.

Naturally, I was thrilled when Weird Al agreed to do an English lesson for English, baby! We cover two meanings of the phrase “grow up” in his lesson.

If you’ve listened to Weird Al’s music, you can tell he’s kind of a genius, so I knew he would be a great English teacher. There were so many good vocabulary words in this interview, that it was hard to choose which to highlight. In fact, I’m sure some ESL students will have to watch it a few times to get it. Luckily, the topic of jobs and careers is relatively easy to understand.

The same goes for Al’s book. It’s surprisingly straight-forward. His name appears on the cover as simply “Al Yankovic” and the book isn’t especially “weird” or experimental. The language is really creative. It might be a little advanced for some kids (or ESL students), but the tougher words, like “hydraulic torque wrench calibrator” have fun sounds so you can enjoy them even if you don’t know what they mean.

While if it didn’t have his name on it, you probably wouldn’t guess the book is by Weird Al, the voice is clearly his. It’s easy to picture him reading the book aloud. And in way, the story is a metaphor for his body of work. The book follows the imagination of a kid who runs through many possible careers, some outrageous (giraffe milker) and others more common (teacher), and never picks one. Al is the same way–his music covers every genre and he has also studied architecture, been a filmmaker and now a writer…and lucky for us, an English teacher!


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