Reinventing yourself

Imagine going from working in insurance in Liverpool, to becoming a pop star in China. That’s just what Barry Cox did, according to an article on the BBC News website.

He was bored with his insurance job and wanted to try something different. After a visit to his local Chinese chip shop, he decided to have a go at learning Chinese. So he made friends with the guys in the chip shop, and began to learn Cantonese from them, and also at the Wah Sing Chinese Community Centre in Liverpool. Then he went to work in a Chinese supermarket and a restaurant to work on his language skills.

One of the guys gave him a pile of Cantonese music CDs. Barry found the tunes quite catchy and learnt to sing some of songs, even though he had no musical background and didn’t listen to music much before that.

Before long he was singing regularly at karakoe nights around Chinatown, and eventually moved to Hong Kong to pursue a singing career under the name of Gok Pak-wing. After building up his reputation over a number of years, he was offered a residency at the biggest casino in Macau.

So there you have a slightly unusual reason to learn a language – to become a pop star!

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

5 Responses to Reinventing yourself

  1. Junko Salmon says:

    Quite impressive! But do you think singing in the languages you’re learning has a direct impact on your coversational skills?

  2. BG says:

    I think singing/learning songs can help with your language ability, but that it might be more efficient to spend the time a different way. From personal experience, I think learning songs not as the primary means of learning the language, but as a supplement works best. I know songs in most of the languages I am learning.

  3. Simon says:

    Learning songs can help you to learn some vocabulary and grammar. You can also use some lines from songs in your conversations, especially from the more ‘conversational’ songs.

  4. Weili says:

    I personally believe it depends on the songs.

    There are songs that can definitely help, especially with repeating lyrics and memorable melodies.

    However, there are some songs like most rap songs for example, I believe those can hurt more than help.

  5. James says:

    hmmm songs are good for two things
    (1) memorising constructions which you can then use to generate new sentances
    (2) pronunciation, as you will emphasise more in song than in speach and long vowels force you to work out what they really should be rather than just mutter them fast.

    and you pick up words and can get a few laughs if you can recite the lyrics of well known songs. I sometimes use bits of reggaeton in my philosophy class. Alwyas gets a laugh,

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