This is Part 8 in a series of articles in which I show you exactly how I’m learning foreign languages every day, and today is about transcribing audio.
In these articles I talk about how I’m using my Core Study Time – a 30-45 minute period at the start of every day which I set aside for intensive study.
Before you read this, you should go back and check out the previous posts in the series:
For some people, learning songs in a foreign language is one of the most natural things to do!
For others, the thought never occurs!
Perhaps because of my music background, I've always enjoyed learning songs in all of my eight languages.
I'm actually quite fussy in terms of what music I like, which means that when I do come across a song that speaks to me, I get this overwhelming urge to learn it right away!
When I was a full-time musician, I spent many years playing salsa, samba, bossa nova, and other Latin American styles, which gave me a lot of practice learning lyrics in foreign languages!
At that time, I found that learning music in Spanish and Portuguese really helped me develop my abilities in the languages:
But above all, I alway find that learning songs helps me grow an affinity, love and appreciation for the language I'm learning, far beyond the nuts and bolts (the grammar!) you learn during regular study.
Engaging yourself on an emotional level is a sure-fire way to increase motivation and learn a language faster!
Through all this practice, I've developed a really solid system for learning song lyrics.
One important point I want to make is this: It takes a lot of work!
Even with a good system for memorising lyrics, there's simply no getting away from the discipline required to commit it all to memory.
With that said, let's look at how I go about it:
Now you've done the preparation – familiarising yourself with the song and lyrics – now you've got the tough job of committing it all to memory!
What happens during this process, and the reason we just add two lines at a time, is that you will forget stuff.
You'll forget words…
You'll even forget entire lines…
But that's ok – it's all part of the process.
When I've got most of the lyrics down, what I start to do is to sing the song in reverse.
No, I'm not crazy! Here's why…
One of the things you need to do when performing a song is to remember which lines are coming up next. Otherwise, in the heat of performance, you can suddenly forget what's next, and that can be a disaster!
The best way to mitigate against this is to deliberately mix up the order of the lines you sing to yourself, so get the know the order of the lines in the song literally back-to-front!
[Tweet “Here's how to learn a song in a foreign language! “]
Finally! You've learnt the lyrics!
But wait… unfortunately, you're not done yet!
You see, when you're singing a song to yourself, you stop and start. If you make a mistake, you go back and fix it. (Trust me, you do this much more than you think!)
But if you ever come to perform in front of someone else, you can't do that!
Now, you may not ever plan to perform in public… and I get that. (Most people don't!)
But the point here is that you don't truly know a song until you can sit down and sing it from beginning to end without stopping, correcting yourself, or even hesitating!
So, even if you never plan to perform in front of people, it really pays dividends to practise the performance of the song.
Often a simple Google search will get you the lyrics quickly. What can help is to find the word for “lyrics” in your target language, and include that with the search.
For example, don't just search for: “We are the champions”, search: “We are the champions lyrics”
Here are some of the most popular lyrics websites for you to start your search:
What happens if you have a song stuck in your head, but don't the title?
Have you learnt songs in the past? What tips would you give?
Please share this post on Facebook or Twitter if you found it useful, then leave me your comments or questions below!
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