The word “surrender” conjures up images of defeat and submission. But when it comes to language learning, the more you give yourself up to your target language, the more successful you will be.
Why do people speak with accents? They are stuck in the phonological structure of their native tongue.
Why do foreign language speakers keep making the same grammatical mistakes?
They are still thinking like they would in their native language.
The more you give up about your native language when you speak a new language, the more able you will be to embody your target language and speak it well. It’s not about trying to be a native speaker, it’s about approximating yourself as much as possible to the way native speakers naturally speak.
Against the backdrop of Sarajevo, I talked with Bosnian musician Damir Imamović about surrendering yourself to a language and music. We also talked about speaking minority languages and language confusion. Damir’s song “Žute dunje” is played at the beginning and end of the video.
** Press the red CC button in the lower right corner for English subtitles.**
While in Sarajevo last month filming the documentary Saved By Language (about how the endangered language of Ladino saved a Jewish boy’s life in World War II), I spent time with my dear friend Damir Imamović. He’s a sevdah musician and singer. We went to a vista point in the hills surrounding Sarajevo and filmed a video about language learning and music. It’s thanks to my dear Damir that I learned Bosnian/Serbo-Croatian. He taught me the language through the songs of the former Yugoslavia.
Here are our first two videos. There will be one more.
1) Damir and I discuss learning languages with songs and how he taught me the language. Damir’s song “Dva se Draga” is played at the beginning and end of the video.
2) In this video, I show some photos from Sarajevo while Damir’s version of the song Summertime plays in the background. Then we discuss how he learned English during the war and approaches to language learning.
If we did, we’d probably bore each other very quickly!
I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Simcott and Luca Lampariello in Poznań, Poland earlier this month. We share six common languages (Russian, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian) and we gracefully switched from one language to another as we walked around the historical parts of the city and enjoyed each other’s company over various Polish dishes. We were very fortunate to have Michał Grześkowiak, a local Polish polyglot, to show us around town and speak to us in Spanish.
It had always been a dream of mine to speak as I think and say what came to my mind in whatever language it happened to be. (I constantly have to censure myself to stick to languages the people I am speaking to can understand.) It was a relief to be able to just be me around these polyglots because I knew they’d understand me!
Here is our fun video in Spanish about our culinary discoveries in Poland. We do talk a little bit about language learning. Luca, Michal and Richard are three very funny and entertaining polyglots!
***You have to press the red CC button in the lower right corner to select English subtitles.***
Las palabras en inglés que comienzan con las letras “th” juntas causan muchos problemas porque tienen sonidos diferentes. Mediante la canción “These are the times to remember” by Billy Joel, enseño como diferenciar los dos sonidos de las letras “th” juntas.
All rights to this video belong to Univsion Corporation.
Luciana Lage of Street Smart Brazil and I teamed up once again to show the differences between Spanish and Portuguese in the song, “Amigo” by Roberto Carlos. Read the blog post on the Street Smart Brazil websit with more information and song lyrics to use this song to distinguish Spanish from Portuguese. Roberto Carlos sings in both languages. So his music is a great source for those who know Spanish and want to learn Portuguese or vice versa.
Last week, I did a guest post on Polyglot Dream (Luca Lampariello’s popular language learning blog about how to learn languages and attain native-like pronunciation. I internalize the foreign languages that I learn to the point where I physically and emotionally resonate with them.
I made a playlist of videos in English, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian with English translation where I explain how I feel when I speak in each language. You have to feel a language and resonate with it in order for you to truly get into the flow of the language.
(Press the CC button in the lower right corner for English subtitles.)
So you’re not from a bilingual family and you live in a monolingual area where there’s no one who speaks the language you’re learning, you can still learn a new language.
Aaron Myers and I had a recorded Skype conversation about how “everyday” people can speak a new language when they don’t have the advantages I did of growing up speaking another language at home and hearing many languages around me. Aaron grew up in a rural area of the United States, far from the big cities where one may hear various languages spoken on one street block.
Listen to his advice on how to learn foreign languages from home.
Learn foreign languages with music, TV, radio, movies and other media.
El idioma es música
Aprenda otro idioma mediante canciones, la televisión, la radio y otros medios.
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