In omaggio a John Peter Sloan (1969-2020)
Sono nato inglese ma morirò italiano, said five years ago the most famous language teacher in Italy. Nobody thought though that this would happen so soon.
Here’s a text I wrote more than one year ago, but I never posted it:
You might have watched some funny YouTube video featuring John Peter Sloan without knowing what you’re looking at. That’s if you happened to run into an excerpt of his older video courses “Speak Now!” or “Speak now! Evolution” (2011), or “Speak Now! for Work” (2012). He’s also the author of a number of books, including “English Express”, “Instant English”, “Instant English 2”, “Instant English Revolution” and “English in viaggio”, and audiobooks such as “Real-life English”, “Phrasal Verbs A-Z”; his official YT channel offers videos of “Real-life English” and “Idioms A-Z”. Surprisingly, after “English da zero” and “English da zero kids”, he also authored the books “Français da zero” and “Español da zero”.
Who’s JPS though? According to Antonio D’Orrico (“Corriere della Sera”), “Il più efficace professore d’inglese mai apparso nel nostro Paese.” (Why are the Italians writing Paese with a capital P? This sounds fascist to me.) But how did he come to teach English to Italians and how’s he speaking such a good Italian, and yet have a British name? Born in 1969 of an Irish father and an English mother, he left England at 16 to travel around Europe as a singer and guitarist. In 1990, he arrived in Italy, where he founded a rock band (The Max), then he became a comedian. Since 2000 he dedicated himself to teaching English in Italy, and for that matter he created an original method, focused on funny dialogues, practicality and a huge amount of common sense.
Some insights into it can be found in his 2018 TEDxOrtygia speech that can be found here (in the meantime, also here). God, I wish there were someone to teach German this way!
What I didn’t know back then was that towards the end of 2016, he moved from Milan to Menfi, in Sicily, to open the “Sloan English School” and to care for the abandoned dogs and cats.
Here’s maybe the most popular video featuring John Peter Sloan, taken from the first volume of “Speak Now!” and present on YouTube in countless copies: “Englishmen who go to Italy”:
Eight years later, in “Smith in Sicilia“ (an homage to Sicily), John Peter Sloan has inserted a remake of his old sketch:
Back in time, also from “Speak Now!”, here’s my favorite scene with Granny Smith:
The second part is here. But the maniac who wants to kill granny Smith is a recurrent theme; you’ll find him e.g. in volume 3, between 33:18 and 35:50, or in volume 4, between 9:43 and 12:00.
Another favorite of mine:
The number of books written by John is impressive, and the list in Wikipedia is incomplete, because some have been translated and adapted to other languages:
His audio-only English language course is since 2017 available on Audible.
Here’s an older introduction to the English pronunciation for Italians:
A different and more recent take on the pronunciation can be found here (from “English Express”). Also from “English Express”: Tempi verbali.
He was really dedicated to teach everyone English:
Being also an actor, John Peter Sloan was a great stand-up comedian. From his ever famous “I am not a penguin” (you’ll find it split in seven or eight parts on YouTube), here’s a tiny excerpt, “Le 3 parole italiane più belle” (boh, mah, palle):
In the context of the Brexit, some people were worried that Europe will be left with the faux English spoken by the Eurocrats in Brussels, sometimes called Eurish (Eurish has developed a grammar of its own; Brussels dialect is a gift to the EU’s foes; World English Language Day: Do you speak ‘Euro English’?; Welches Englisch werden wir nach dem Brexit sprechen?; Avec le Brexit, le “bad english” sera la norme en Europe). John Peter Sloan was a fervent supported of “the only English there is”: the British English. You see, the American English doesn’t really exist, it’s just a thing for the Americans. They use the wrong words, the wrong pronunciation… and unfortunately Italians seem to fail too when it comes to pronunciation. For instance, make sure you don’t pronounce funny like fanny, or you’ll just have said farfallina. This segment from La vita in diretta (puntata del 16/02/2018) is a must-see:
Having an asthma since a kid, and later having developed pulmonary emphysema, John Peter Sloan was struck by a severe respiratory crisis on the evening of May 25, while in Menfi, and he couldn’t overcome it.
Everyone who ever knew him, even indirectly, will miss him. We all do already. Sharp, funny, dedicated, he was one of the very few Britons nobody could but love. He loved Italy, his language, his culture, his cuisine, his people, more than most Italians. He also cherished other languages, and loved helping people learn them, enjoy them, and enjoy life.
The video posted by his friends on the official YouTube channel:
In omaggio a John Peter Sloan, My Life rende disponibile sul sito e in modalità totalmente gratuita il corso completo di inglese Essential English in 10 puntate in questo link.