Sunday, November 15, 2009

Language is Music by Susanna Zaraysky

Language is Music: Over 70 Fun & Easy Tips to Learn Foreign Languages by Susanna Zaraysky is a beneficial compliment to any language learning program. In it, Zaraysky provides tips that she used to assist her through the years while she learned to speak English, Russian, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Serbo-Croatian.

She relates the learning of language to that of learning music. You have to tune your ear to hear the melodies of different languages in order to recreate them. Pay attention to the tempo, tone and emphasis within each syllable, just like you would to the notes in a song. Practice the language daily, just as you would practice playing an instrument daily. The new language is your instrument.

Immersion is the best way to learn a new language. Zaraysky recommends listening to music, watching TV, and viewing films in your target language. Listen to phrases again and again. Practice repeating them until you can mimic the intonation and pronunciation. Make vocabulary lists of new words. Practice translating. Create flashcards. Listen, watch, write.

When you start getting comfortable in the new language, try to converse with others in that language. Ideally, you would look for someone who is a native speaker in the target language, but any exchange is beneficial. Perhaps you could help someone learn English as you learn his language. Practice in person or online. Zaraysky provides numerous online resources and tips for local resources, throughout her book.

Make yourself perform daily tasks, such as balancing the checkbook, by using the target language. The more you make it a part of you and your routine, the more likely you are to remember it.

Language is Music is not going to guarantee that you memorize grammatical structures and vocabulary quickly for an upcoming test or exam. It's not a quick shortcut to make you the star of the class. It's designed for people who are seriously looking for a way to become more proficient in their foreign language studies.

Keep in mind that languages come easily to Zaraysky. Some people are gifted in that regard. Nevertheless, she has had to work hard to develop fluency and has found these techniques to work a better than the rote memorization found in traditional foreign language classes. Applying her techniques as a supplement to what you are already doing will allow you to use different parts of your brain and achieve greater success in your foreign language endeavors.

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