Language learning and music

Last week I bought a new Welsh language course – Cadw Sŵn – which uses a combination of classical music and stories to teach you the language. I think it’s based on the suggestopedia system. The course is being offered at half price and I want to brush up my Welsh, so I thought I’d give it a go.

The course consists of 20 stories based in the Welsh village of Aberarthur. The stories appear in Welsh and English in the course book, and are read aloud by the author, Colin Jones, on the accompanying CDs. You first listen to a piece of classical music, and Colin encourages you to relax. Then you listen to the story three times, once with no music, and twice with music in the background. After that you are advised to read and/or listen to the story again the next day, then to do the exercises in the book.

So far I’ve listened to the music and the first story. Later today I’ll read through the story again and do the exercises. I think this course is going to be fun. I like the idea of using stories, and the music is very pleasant to listen to. I don’t know if listening to it improves your memory, but I’m happy to try it.

Do you know of any similar courses for other languages?

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This entry was posted in Language, Language learning, Music.

7 Responses to Language learning and music

  1. BnB says:

    I’m actually not a big fan of the “osmosis” styles (that’s my term) of learning; they certainly don’t work for me. I need to understand context and structure, and just picking up a word or seeing some construct in a particular passage doesn’t teach you how it works; it just gives you one example of how it can work. You have to read a ton of other examples to get the full picture.

    As an example, in German, some prepositions take accusative, some take dative in the following noun. The “osmosis” approach suggests that after reading enough or hearing enough, you’ll eventually figure out that there’s a difference and which uses which. I personally learn it much faster if a textbook simply says, “here’s how it works, and here are representative lists of both kinds of prepositions.” Now I can not only understand when I read, but I can synthesize myself.

    My kids are going crazy in their high school Spanish classes with poorly designed (and graphically confusing) textbooks that don’t explain stuff and try to avoid English. (Did you know that the picture of a girl reading a book symbolizes the concept of “ambitious”? That’s how they do “osmosis”; the English word “ambitious” is never used, and of course the only way they figure it out is if they ask the teacher. So much for no English…)

    Hmmm… guess I kind of went off on a rant here… it’s a topic that sort of close to the surface as I watch all of the hypey marketing on those kinds of language courses (“learn the natural way, the way kids learn!” without mentioning that it takes kids, who are at the peak of their learning capability, many years to become truly fluent) and as I see my kids’ frustration…

    By the way, I see stories and songs as a great way to polish a language whose structure and basics you already understand…

  2. ISPKN says:

    I used an advanced French program several years ago (I don’t remember the name) that was basically a story followed by a short grammar section and then more of the story. It wasn’t any old boring story either. It was basically a novel for learning language. My younger siblings have really enjoyed the Muzzy program for German. It’s a movie with songs that teach colors, numbers, the alphabet, greetings and other simple words and phrases.

  3. Lillian Sagtit says:

    I am Indonesian, and when I was learning English, the program- can’t remember its name- played a tradintional Indonesian song (in Indonesian) and then played the song to us in English while we read the english version of the song in the exercise book.

  4. Yuh says:

    Good afternoon Mr. Simon. I’m a Japanese university student. I’m major in International Relationship, so English is essential weapon for me. Someday, I want to go to your country. I want to go there to acuire English at first. Second, I just want to go to your country, touching the culture of UK. In order to acommplish that, I study hard in my university. Then, I want you to answer my questions. What districts or cities do you recommend me to study? What university do you recommend me? Is the climate of UK colder than Japan? And, I heard that all people of UK have read Shakespare?

  5. Kisakookoo says:

    Hi! Why I can’t fill my info in profile? Can somebody help me?
    My login is Kisakookoo!

  6. Syberpuppy says:

    I used a French course that I believe was by Berlitz a while back. It was a lot of fun–music plus a story that followed the main character through the day. Although the music was a bit cheesy, the rhythms were catchy and the phrases became trapped in my head. Too bad there isn’t a more advanced course like this one; it was the only thing that helped me learn how to tell time! :-)

  7. renato says:

    I really try, but it is impossible for me to learn any language hearing music. For me this is more difficult than traditional classes.