Chances are that your child’s foreign language class is BORING. I suffered through many foreign language classes that were better suited as remedies for insomnia. Nonetheless, I learned to speak seven languages (Russian, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Serbo-Croatian and Italian) with perfect or almost perfect accents. My fluency and pronunciation came from exposing myself to the languages as much as possible outside of the classroom. Music, TV, movies, radio and the Internet offer a plethora of opportunities to get into the flow of a new language without having to spend a dime on tutors or expensive overseas classes.
Students must first listen to their target language and then go into the details of grammar and vocabulary.
Here are a few tips from my book, Language is Music, a guidebook on how to learn foreign languages using the media.
Directions for your child:
- LISTEN then talk
Find music in your target language that you like. It doesn’t matter if at first you don’t understand the lyrics. You may start singing along without even knowing what you are singing. You are not only learning the rhythm of the language, you are learning new vocabulary.
Relax and close your eyes. Don’t try to understand the words, just listen. You might fall asleep or daydream. Give yourself the time to simply listen and not do anything else. Your mind needs to be calm in order to absorb the sounds.
Sites for foreign language music:
2. Write the lyrics as you listen
Write the lyrics of the songs while listening. You will have to pause the music and rewind or repeat many times to get the words down. Some words will be hard to write because they may be idioms or slang that you haven’t learned yet, but just write as much as you can understand. Compare the lyrics you noted with the original song and see how well you were able to understand the song. Some CDs come with the lyrics inside the CD case. If you don’t have them, look for them online on lyrics websites.
If you can’t locate the lyrics on the lyrics websites, just type in the name of the song in quotes in a web search.
3. Make a vocabulary list with words from the songs
Write vocabulary words from the songs you are learning on flash cards or pieces of paper. On one side, write the word in your language and then write the word in the other language on the opposite side.
4. TV for homework!
Let’s say you are learning Spanish. You have found a local Spanish
language TV station in your area or you are watching the national
Univision news. Even without knowing all the words, you
will be able to get the gist of some of the news reports. The images
and video footage of events already tell you what the news
announcers are talking about. Tune into HOW they are speaking
and the words they are using to describe the images on screen.
Think of the TV as background music like you would
hear in a café or restaurant. Even though it’s not at the forefront
of your consciousness, your brain is still processing it and getting
used to the flow of the language.
To find television programs from different countries
on the Internet: