CBS 5 Bay Sunday (San Francisco) interview about the book, Language is Music, with book author, Susanna Zaraysky. Topics: learning foreign languages using mu...
|Scooped by Susan Volinski|
This was such a great video about HOW to make teaching world languages fun, salient, and exciting. A polyglot is someone who can speak, write, and read multiple languages fluently. CBS had an interview with Susanna Zaraysky, a polyglot and an author. This woman can speak seven languages! I was so impressed, and in my mind, I can’t even imagine having the time to learn that many, and fluently at that! Her method is simply by listening to music, watching TV, and listening to the radio. Her overall message was that “language is music,” which happens to be also the title of her book. She says that before we ever start speaking we are exposed to the language we will be learning. We are always listening, just like music. We listen to a song enough times, we start to pick up on the lyrics. She uses this exact same method and applies it to learning world languages. What stood out to me was when she said, “the way we learn languages, as adults and adolescents, is completely backwards.” This struck me, because as a future teacher, and possible world language teacher, I want to know all the different ways of learning a language. I was definitely intrigued by what she was going to say next, and was not in the least bit offended just because from taking world language classes in high school and college, it can become extremely boring and tedious.
She says that before one even starts to learn a language through words and textbooks, one has to listen to the language through the media to get accustomed to how the sounds are made. I never even thought about that, because from every language class the first thing we always do is start speaking. I take Chinese at UMD, and for the first year, my professors were constantly correcting my tones (Chinese is a tonal language) and words. So to me, it makes perfect sense to listen to the language before you are going to speak it.
One concern that I had though was when she said that she learned Spanish in one year. I don’t know how much I believe her just because I don’t know if it is possible to become fluent in a language after one year. So I guess now I’m wondering what she classifies as “fluent.” Then again, she may indeed be fluent if she did spend a lot of her time just being immersed to the sounds of Spanish before she actually started studying the language.
She finishes up by describing how to make sure a language is retained. She says that most students go to class and spend about 2-3 hours a week in a language class, and then they continue to live their lives in their primary language. She says the only way to fully immerse oneself and become fluent is by relying only on the language you are learning by watching all TV in the language, balancing a checkbook in the language, putting sticky notes of different words around the house, and so on. If I ever go into the field of teaching foreign languages, I feel that I will definitely incorporate the sticky notes around the classroom and allowing the children to listen to the language through a children’s TV shows. I feel this is important for all teachers to incorporate into their classrooms, especially for students who are learning English as a second language.