In the following series „Supporting Learning Methods“ we will present different learning methods that aim to develop and perfect your foreign language skills. They guarantee fast learning success. In the first part of the series, we examine and present listening to music as a means to learning foreign languages. The second part focuses on utilizing TV programs and movies in foreign languages. Subsequently we show you how to profit from foreign-language literature. The last part of the series deals with the possibilities of going abroad.
Part 1: Music as a means to learn foreign languages
Unquestionably, the best way to learn any foreign language is to plunge into it immediately. Yet the old-fashioned teaching styles at school frustrated many of us. Cramming vocabularies and grammar is boring and not at all brain-friendly. We are convinced that language learning needs to make fun in order to be effective. With the proper learning methods it truly works. Using music is one possibility to learn a foreign language sustainably.
That´s how it works:
Choose one song in the language you want to learn. Certainly there is a wide range of possibilities: Pick a song you like from your playlist, from your CD collection, from the Internet etc. There are songs for every language, such as the French Chansons or Italian Canzoni.
The next step is to search for the lyrics. You can find almost all lyrics online. Now you can start off learning!
Listen to the music and read the lyrics at the same time. By doing so, you develop a feeling for the melody of speech, the new sounds and furthermore for the spelling of the words. If you don´t know some words, look it up in a dictionary. However, it is not the goal to understand every single word of the text. An overall understanding is much more vital. You can decide on your own whether to look up a word or not.
If the text is completely new to you and you are a total beginner of the language, it is advisable to do a word-by-word translation (de-coding according to the Birkenbihl Approach). Reading translated lyrics into your mother tongue beforehand will definitely help you to have an overall knowledge of the song´s content.
Reading along is a best practice, however, it is certainly also possible to just listen to the music first. Step by step, you will understand increasingly more of the text and your pronunciation will perfect at the same time. The unconscious works every time you listen to the song and even after that. Pathways are created in your brain that allow us to recall what we have heard at later times.
Employing music as a way to learn a foreign language is a learning method that can be used additionally to your usual activities and practices. There is no better way to learn a language than through boundless music. There is a reason why there is the saying: Music is the language of the world.