Gene Simmons is an American rock star best known for being the front man for the rock group KISS.
KISS grew to fame for their make up and costumes, on-stage antics, and the rebellious rock anthems they sang in the 70’s and early 80’s..
But what your ESL students may NOT know is this…
Gene immigrated to New York City with his mother (who escaped NAZI concentration camps) when he was just eight years old. (according to Wikipedia)
And… neither Gene, nor his mom spoke a word of English when they arrived in New York in 1957.
Despite the language barrier, Gene went from poor, Israeli, immigrant to rock star and eventual marketing maven.
Gene has taken the KISS trademark and cleverly branded it on all kinds of merchandise. And, he has earned millions of dollars doing it.
(not bad for a non-native speaker)
Gene has never forgotten his roots and often shares his advice (however harsh it’s interpreted) with anyone who wants to be successful.
Mr. Simmons was seen on TV commanding American immigrants to learn to speak English if they want any chance of success.
So, as an immigrant, I’m telling you: Learn to speak English. It is the key that will unlock the keys to the kingdom. If you make the effort, then all the possibilities of this culture will open up for you and give you all the rewards that I’ve gotten.”
Watch video of Gene Simmons giving advice to non-native speakers (warning strong language)
As ESL teachers we can certainly empathize with our students who struggle to speak English.
And for those of us teaching abroad… becoming conversational in the local language is tough. Real tough!
Time to look in the mirror… (as Gene would say)
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