Fishing in the Dark: How Henry Sosa learned English.
Henry Sosa is from El Seibo Province, Dominican Republic, but he has spent significant amounts of time in the United States for the last five years as a professional ballplayer, first in the San Francisco Giants organization and now, with the Houston Astros. Somewhere along the way, Sosa knew he would need to learn English in order to be able to get along better in the States throughout his pitching career.
His wife, Leslie, is American, but she’s also fluent in Spanish, and that’s the language she and her husband use to communicate. Sosa had been working on learning English on a minimal level after he started playing pro baseball, but about a year ago, he decided he really wanted to master the language. Leslie was somewhat of a help, of course, but the biggest assist came not from his wife, but from his iPod.
Sosa learned the majority of his English by listening to country music. The first country song he heard was “Fishing in the Dark” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
“I learned all of the words to that song,” Sosa said. Soon after, he attended his first country music concert, a mish-mosh ensemble starring Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and a few others, in San Francisco. Later, he saw Lady Antebellum. Then he started downloading country music songs, by the dozens. To date, he has about 1,000 country songs on his phone.
One of the early favorites was McGraw’s “Don’t Take the Girl.” He also likes John Michael Montgomery and the Zac Brown Band. “Colder Weather” is quickly becoming a must-listen. Another favorite: “What Do You Want” by Jerrod Niemann.
Why country music as the learning tool? Simply put, because it’s actually music. The lyrics are clear. Country songs usually tell a story, which means the sentences need to make sense. And, “it’s slow,” Sosa said. “I can understand the words well.”
With 1,000 songs on his phone, clearly, Sosa is open to new music, and to new suggestions. My two recommendations: “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks and “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” by Billy Currington.
What would you suggest? I’ll pass it along.
Craig Biggio might not be playing baseball anymore, but the party — The Sunshine Kids party, that is — rolls on.
Biggio hosted his annual Sunshine Kids Party on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park for dozens of children and their families. He played baseball with the kids and later hosted the group for lunch in the FiveSeven Grille behind center field, where he signed autographs and posed for photos.
Thanks to Larry Stokes for passing along these photos from the event…
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