"At this moment, my English is not so well," the saviour of British football told a rapt audience, "so I prefer to be in Italian." Fabio Capello managed three faltering sentences in the tongue of his new national team before turning to his interpreter during his first press conference as England manager.
The 61-year-old provoked incredulity by claiming he could pick up the English language before he first meets England's players on 7 January. "I am convinced that when the national squad meets for the first time, I will be able to speak the language," the Gorizia native said on Monday.
"It is very important to be able to communicate with the players and for sure I need a strict regime. I will apply myself every day so that in a month I will be able to speak with the players."
Capello's ambitious pledge has certainly got fans and linguists talking, so The Independent asked experts just who or what might hold the secret to such a speedy conversion.
Theory No 1: Total Immersion
Given Capello's tight schedule, total immersion in the language just might be the best way forward. James Godber, who runs the Homestay English Programme, allows students to stay in his home for intensive 24-hour teaching. "The immersion method is the most efficient and effective way to learn a language in a limited amount of time," he said. "By having somebody stay with your family with no access to their own language they can pick things up remarkably quickly".
Mr Godber takes students shopping with him, as well as to meals and family dinners. "The intensive immersion course is the most expensive option," he added, "but then money is not going to be an issue in his job"
Theory No 2: Technology-based
Computers allow for turbo-speed language learning without needing a teacher. Capello could use software such as the Rosetta Stone, which can rate the authenticity of your accent using a headset. Steven Wines, the managing director of the software company, said: "We harness the way you learn as a child, by having images of the words, along with their written form and their spoken sound, on the computer. The course is broken up into three stages but if Capello put in 150 hours of learning, he would reach upper intermediate level , which would make him pretty good at communicating. We guarantee it's the fastest way to learn."
Theory No 3: Back to School
Capello could don a satchel and follow the gaggles of foreign teenagers to a language school for group tuition. Jonathan Richards, director of Berlitz Brighton, says: "A Berlitz course is very intensive, as all instruction is given in the target language. In a class with more than one person there is a social aspect and students can learn from each other. There are more opportunities for pair work and group discussion, which can help develop conversation skills."
"The Berlitz method has always presented language in the context of real-life situations, with extra targeted practice of grammar and vocabulary."
Theory No 4: Private Tuition
For most students, one-to-one teaching allows the speediest development. With a tutor, Capello could tailor his lessons to the types of words and sentences he is likely to need.
Benjamin Wyllie, of Alpha Tutors, believes private tuition is the only way that Capello could progress swiftly enough. He said: "People come along more quickly alone. If you are in a group setting your problems don't get recognised so quickly. There's a limit to how much you can learn in a day but with a tutor you get things done more efficiently."Reuse content