Language learning and public content – ‘I am Tarzan’

I frequently say that public domain books are a great source of further innovation and small business ideas. Today I found another example that brings together several of the themes I track: Language acquisition, Publishing and Public Domain books.

Mark Phillips has taken Tarzan of the Apes book that is now available in public domain and rewritten parts of it to teach grammar as part of the story. The resulting self-published book Tarzan and Jane’s Guide to Grammar (or Amazon link) has been selling quite well in schools for a year or so. The book’s idea is similar to the one of The Twisted Doors, but is targetted at English readers wishing to increase their vocabulary rather than at learners of a foreign language. It also feels to me like a precursor to my 3rd idea from the earlier article on How e-books could revolutionize language-learning.

About a month ago (from what I can tell), Mark decided to push the book to the general public more aggressively. He set up the website and sent some copies out as promotion. I heard of it in one of the Grammar Girl‘ podcasts.

He did not contact me (this is not a sponsored post), but I liked the idea of the book since – as I mentioned at the start – it connects to multiple of my interests. I hope his work will become more known and spur other people to experiment with using public domain material in innovative ways. Especially, if they are innovative language-learning ways.