Anything but The Canon.
October 19, 2022 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Interesting, wholesome brief content for a 17 year old boy who's looking to improve his US-centric English skills?

I'm planning to start informal conversations and chats with a 17 year old boy here in Spain who wants to improve his English, preferably US-centric.

To keep things going, I'm hoping to do some short readings / listening / watching during our sessions.

So I'm looking for BRIEF and INTERESTING

* books or stories (I can copy and paste to create excerpts if needed)
* YouTube / TikTok / Instagram videos
* podcasts

I'd like to be able to expose him to different aspects of US culture. That can be ANY aspect of US culture for ANY community as long as it's not raunchy or overly violent. He's apparently a gym rat, so sports are an obvious area of potential interest.

I thought about YA literature, but most of it seems to be aimed at female readers. And public domain works are easy to copy. But I myself hated most of The Canon when I was in high school, and I don't think it would helpful to any high school age student of English today.
posted by Sheydem-tants to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: First thought: How about any of the subjects on the Crash Course yt channel? It's designed for American curriculum for the most part but the more humanities ones are pretty interesting and the presenters do use colloquial American English. And if his school covers similar territory, having additional references may be helpful.
posted by cendawanita at 11:36 PM on October 19, 2022 [5 favorites]

I would love to recommend stuff! Can you give some guidelines for what you mean by "brief"? Perhaps videos/podcasts that are under 10 minutes long, and stories that are under 5,000 words, and books that have chapters or excerptable logical chunks that are under 5,000 words?
posted by brainwane at 4:12 AM on October 20, 2022

Short? Teenage boy? Spain? This is all pointing to Hemingway. Maybe a little too canonical, although I started reading Hemingway in high school specifically as a reaction against our required reading. Bonus: In Our Time is now in the public domain. Some of those stories are only a page and a half long. Easy way to see if the kid is interested in Hemingway’s style (which of course is one of the single greatest influences on US English) before committing to something longer.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:13 AM on October 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

This list may have some interesting choices, more fairy tale than canon (but updated with some modern takes, My Father's Dragon is great)
Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different: I loved the Rebel Girls books, and this is their book for boys. A whole series of 1-page biographies - US-centric but not exclusively.
Then, you may want to send him something for him to pore over at his leisure. I recommend Miles Morales: Spider Man (The Graphic Novel) which was required reading for my teen this summer.
posted by nkknkk at 4:36 AM on October 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

For short, interesting, and American, there's Ripley's Believe It Or Not! books; the stories are usually only a couple paragraphs long and accompanied by photos. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader is also easily-to-read short stories and trivia, but a little longer than Ripley's (stories designed to be read in the time it takes your the bathroom).
posted by AzraelBrown at 5:22 AM on October 20, 2022

You know, the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader series (there are a ton of them by now, you could go for the most recent to keep up with pop culture) were a surprising hit with a male teen reluctant-reader in our household. I would not hesitate to recommend those, if you want good simple excerpts.
posted by dlugoczaj at 5:55 AM on October 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

There are YA books that are about boys and sports, and in particular, it might be worth looking into Orca's "high/low" books - books for students who need easier/shorter books than the ones published for their grade level, but who don't want to be stuck reading children's books. Orca has a bunch of sports books.
posted by Jeanne at 6:00 AM on October 20, 2022

My sports-obsessed nephew (who is now a professional rugby player in France) paid close attention to the NBA at that age, and that season just started. Even though the US court is different than the international court, the game still works basically the same way everywhere and there are a number of international players he could follow (although I don't pay enough attention to know if there are any Spaniards in the league at the moment). Baseball and (American) football don't really translate to Europe, hockey might be too hard to follow from abroad, and the sport the rest of the world calls football isn't played to the same standard here (and that league's playoffs are starting now, so there wouldn't even be a season of drama to follow like there would with basketball).
posted by fedward at 7:51 AM on October 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For reasons I cannot articulate, I love Sam from Wendover's edutainment videos. He has several youtube channels all of which could be good content - Wendover, Half as Interesting, Extremities (maybe not this one - content is a more long-form) and the one I'm actually going to recommend: JetLag the Game. Sam and his two writers play a real-life game of long distance tag across various places (US and Europe). It's very clean, good natured fun, with the key players being articulate, US-english speakers in their 20s who create quality english content for a living. Their most recent game is across Europe, so it might be even more relevant for your student as well.
posted by cgg at 8:00 AM on October 20, 2022

For watchable content, Dude Perfect is a lot of fun and sports-oriented, and pretty squeaky clean.
posted by Mchelly at 6:06 PM on October 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older The Oregon Trail, except with an Instant Pot   |   Masks at the ready Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments