Everyone loves listening to music, right? How cool would it be to use music as a tool to boost your language learning? That’s why today I’m going to teach you how to get the most out of a song. Who knows, maybe you will even find a new favorite singer by exploring music in your target language!
Firstly, try to sing along and get its general gist. Don’t be shy! This step is about getting comfortable with the pronunciation, intonation, and the song’s atmosphere. Nobody is judging you for your singing abilities. Just relax and sing along.
When you have done that, it’s a very good idea to write any new words or unknown phrases down and to look them up in order to increase your vocabulary and understanding of the song. First, try to figure out the unknown words by context, and if this doesn’t help, you can use a dictionary afterward. Try not to rely too much on the dictionary, as in many cases you can understand new words just from the context.
Try to translate the song into your mother tongue. Some might ask: “Why would I do that? I’m learning a new language. How could taking a step back to my mother tongue be helpful? That’s easy. When you’re in the process of translating something from your target language to your mother tongue, you will learn about the differences between those two.
Generally, the process of translating can truly benefit you because you're able to realize that you cannot translate everything literally. In most cases you have to express the meaning by playing with words. Moreover, you will get a feeling of how this language is different compared to your mother tongue. This will encourage you to express yourself more naturally.
Let’s get creative! Try to draft a new verse for the song you’ve been listening to. Don’t worry, you’re not in a writing class. This exercise serves the purpose of helping develop and express ideas that fit the topic or song. It also enables you to gain some writing practice in your target language and tests whether you have successfully completed step one and step two because you can only come up with new ideas that fit the song when you fully understand it. If you think that’s too easy for you, I’ve got a challenge for you:
Try to write a verse that carries the right rhythm and fits the song's theme.
I would like to close this article by offering some general encouragement and advice, especially regarding step three. Nobody is perfect when studying a language. You might become discouraged with the results of the exercise because you have a limited vocabulary and you can’t express yourself as clearly and as precisely as you normally would. You might be sad that you can’t convey your emotions as powerfully in your target language as your native tongue.
But you know what? That’s perfectly normal and fine. We’re here to learn and this exercise should be fun and help you progress. Furthermore, you can only improve your language skills by making mistakes, learning from them, and taking steady steps forward.
Remember, learning a language is a journey—not a 100-meter sprint!
Hero image by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash