Posted by & filed under Free Language Learning Resources, How to learn languages with songs and the media.

Do you want to know what the Brazilian Portuguese words “nossa”, “balada”, “pegar”, and “galera” mean?

Do you want to distinguish the words “mas” and “mais” and not confuse them?

You can learn those lessons in the latest music video that Luciana Lage of Street Smart Brazil and I made using the super popular Brazilian pop song, Ai, Se Eu Te Pego! by Michel Teló. We explain the meaning of the song, the words that confuse Spanish speakers and some Brazilian idioms.

The song is all over Spanish language radio in the US and is a major hit worldwide.

Follow along with the lyrics of the song.

Posted by & filed under How to learn languages with songs and the media, Resources.

Aprendi português ouvindo a radio portuguesa e cancoes brasileiras. Sei que e posivel aprender uma nova lingua sem viver no pais onde se fala a lingua. Eu nunca morei em um pais que fala a lingua portuguesa mas, eu falo o português. Falo 7 línguas (ruso, francês, espanhol, italiano, serbo croata, português e inglês).

Nesse vídeo, vou utilizar uns pedaços de uma canção americana para te mostrar como uma canção pode te ajudar com a gramática e pronuncia inglesa.

Compreendi depois de ler o livro, Musicophilia, de neurologista Oliver Sacks, que eu ouvia as línguas como música. Quero ajudar outras pessoas à aprender línguas com bons sotaques utilizando a música e outros meios pra suplementar as suas aulas de línguas.

Estou procurando uma editora ou alguma instituição de ensino que se interesse em traduzir o meu livro e queira publicá-lo no Brasil. Acho que o tema é muito interessante para o povo brasileiro porque a música faz uma parte importante na vida dos brasileiros e as minhas dicas poderia ajudá-los à aprender inglês ou outros idiomas. Também gostaria de ajuda para fazer outros videos, como esse, pra ajudar aos brasileiros à aprender inglês com músicas.

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Posted by & filed under Experiences, Free Language Learning Resources.

Here is the second part of my conversation with Aaron Myers of Everyday Language Learner, an expat from the United States who has been living in Istanbul for over four years. We met in November 2011 near in Istanbul, where he told me about some difficulties and advantages of learning Turkish as an English speaker. We spoke again in March 2012 by Skype and I recorded our conversation so that others interested in how to learn Turkish could benefit from his experience.

Here is the segment of our conversation about how to learn Turkish:

Posted by & filed under Como aprender idiomas con música y los medios, Experiences, How to learn languages with songs and the media, Multilingual women, Susanna's TV interviews.

I often hear these excuses: “I have no ear for languages” or “I don’t have any musical talent, so I can’t learn a foreign language”.


Here is a very short video I did on Spanish language television (with English subtitles) about how my deaf German friend learned English with the help of the flute. You don’t have to be musically talented to learn foreign languages. If a deaf woman can speak a foreign language, then there’s no excuse for the rest of us to not learn a new language!

Press the “CC” button for English subtitles.

Posted by & filed under Benefits of multilingualism, Free Language Learning Resources.

Aaron Myers and I met in Istanbul, Turkey in November 2011. Aaron Meyers has created his project, I-586, to bring free language learning materials to people in languages other than English since so many language learning materials online are only available in English.

Here’s the portion of our Skype call about how he wants to help people worldwide have access to language learning materials for free. Later, I will post the sections of our call dealing with tips to learning Turkish, how to raise kids abroad and advice for “everyday” people who want to learn a new language.

Posted by & filed under Benefits of multilingualism, Experiences, Resources.

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show made a funny and correct assessment of why Russian speakers sound “evil” in English, although they may not have any bad intentions.

“I wonder if Russia has been our (US) enemy for so many years because everything they say just sounds evil. Maybe it’s all been a misunderstanding of tone and syntax,” comedian Jon Stewart comments on Russian President Medvedev’s statement to President Obama at the recent nuclear summit in South Korea. (The two leaders thought their microphones weren’t on.)

Unfortunately, Russian speakers can sound very harsh in English, especially when they don’t use the definite and indefinite articles correctly and say “I want apple” instead of “I want an apple”. This is why paying attention to details and getting into the music and flow of your target language is important, or else you may sound like a Neanderthal without realizing it.

Before anyone accuses me of being anti-Russian, let it be known that I’m a native Russian speaker and I know all to well how Russian speakers sound like to English ears. I’ve witnessed more misunderstanding and miscommunications between Americans and Russians than I care to remember precisely because of the directness of Russian speakers in the way they communicate in English and their incorrect usage of the English language.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Borscht Whisperer
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Posted by & filed under Articles about me, How to learn languages with songs and the media, Multilingual identity.

Russian heritage speaker

At the Herzen Pedagogical Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, where I gave a presentation on how to learn English with music.


Professor François Grosjean, the Emeritus Professor of psycholinguistics at Neuchâtel University, Switzerland is a specialist in bilingualism, multilingualism and heritage language speakers. Last week, he wrote a blog piece, Portraying Heritage Language Speakers: Heritage language speakers are bilinguals with a difference. in Psychology Today about my case as a Russian heritage speaker working in the former Soviet Union.

I learned Russian, my heritage language, because that was the language I grew up with at home but I had very limited formal education in the language. (I came to the United States from Russia as a young child.)

Difference between heritage speakers and native speakers

Heritage speakers have a special place in the range of multilingualism. They are different than native speakers because they often lack the same extensive vocabulary that a native would have. They may make mistakes speaking their heritage language although they may speak it without an accent.

Heritage speakers require a different approach to properly learning the grammar, writing and vocabulary of their “native” heritage tongue.

Heritage language curriculum

I am very glad that  the San Francisco School District has Russian heritage language classes for Russian immigrant children or US-born children of Russian speaking parents. This type of specific curriculum makes sense. Otherwise, heritage speakers get bored in a language class that starts from zero that’s meant for people who have no background in the language.

It’s like my Portuguese book, Com licença!: Brazilian Portuguese for Spanish Speakers , which is for Spanish speakers who want to learn Portuguese from a Spanish base. The book is designed for people who can learn the language much quicker than someone with no background in a Romance language.

While promoting multilingualism, teachers and curriculum providers need to take into account the various skills ranges of their students.