“Music is the doctor of my soul”. That’s what the Doobie Brothers once sang. And it’s something that is more or less carved in stone. Yet, music can take on other professional roles. Preeminently among them is the role of teacher. I mean, just look at the number of people who have learned English by listening to songs. OK, maybe the word “learn” is too much. Nobody becomes a fountain of knowledge by listening to songs by contemporary musicians. But there’s no denying that he will build up a more than respectable vocabulary, and revise his existing word lists that much easier.
Well, he certainly will as long as he has a site like this one at hand. LyricsGaps lets anybody pick up new words by listening to music. The idea is that people choose a language from the many that are offered (including English, Spanish, Italian and French) and pick new vocabulary up by completing blanks in the lyrics of songs in such languages. Continue reading →
Here you have the final part of my interview with Alexander Parij from SingAndStudy. You can read the first part here, of course.
MUSIC & YOU
Q:When did you become interested in music? What was the first album or single you ever purchased?
A: I did not have a lot of pocket money to buy CDs, so I mainly listened to the radio.
The first album I purchased was the soundtrack of Spawn when I was teenager.
Q:Are you in a band yourself, or have you been in a band in the past? Is there a clip on YouTube or elsewhere we could watch?
Q:Musical likes and dislikes? Favorite artists?
A: My music tastes change a lot. I think it progressed from heavy metal to psy-trance and then to something more mellow. Right now I listen a lot to Eduard Artemyev (one of the founders of Soviet electronic music), Pink Floyd and Jimmy Hendrix. Continue reading →
For students of foreign languages, songs are one of the perfect frameworks for capturing new vocabulary. The reasons are obvious: songs lasts only a couple of minutes, and some sections repeat themselves over and over. And you have a melody to begin with – a melody that can dote whole segments of the composition with instant catchiness, if not the whole song.
I already reviewed one site for learning languages using videos, but this one is a bit different. Named Sing And Study, it stands as a (paid) Adobe application that you download and launch from your desktop. This application will let you create word games with these videos that you like. That is, you will define which words are missing from the lyrics as the song is playing. This has the immediate advantage of letting you set the difficulty level as specifically as you want. A song can be suited to just anybody, since you will determine what will be removed from where.
For instance, you could take “Like A Rolling Stone” and make filling the gaps something easy:
You never _____ around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did _____ for you
You never _____ that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to _____ on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it _____ when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal Continue reading →
Learning a language has got little to do with memorizing mere lists of words. It has to do with using them, and placing every single one in a meaningful setting. There is a common belief among language professionals: use a word three times and it will be yours forever.
And in addition to using words, the context in which they are used is vital for nailing them down in your mind. A word that a teacher gives to you out of the blue along with 10 more is hard to grab. Conversely, if you learn one (and only one) word from a song by your favorite artist, there is a radically different degree of involvement. To begin with, you like the artist and you care about his/her message. And if you learn what it means by looking it up on the dictionary yourself, you will place an even higher value on it, in the same way that we grow attached to something that results from a laborious process. Continue reading →