This is the 2nd article in a series about using the Internet and social media as an educational resource.
So, you’re preparing for a big trip and you want to brush up on a language. Or maybe you’re at a decent level and want to take things up a notch. Whatever your reason, we all want to feel like a native when abroad, and we’ve all heard that immersion is the best way to learn a language.
What better way to learn “the language of the people” than by listening to their music, right? After all, we can’t live without music, and that feeling is universal.
Fortunately, the tools available today on the Internet are a huge asset when it comes to learning a language. The Internet opens up a whole new world of international music, without even leaving home. Besides learning slang, idioms and a side of the culture that you just can’t get from textbooks, listening to music to learn a language is just straight up fun: here’s a couple of the best ways to use the Internet for language learning.
Discover International Bands
Having a band or song in mind is a great start, but you might not know of any popular music from country X. Try a simple online search like “German hip hop” on Google or Wikipedia, which will surely provide you with some band names. When it comes to how to use social media to find music, you can always follow music blogs or music blog aggregators, like Hype Machine, to find what to listen to. Searching the Billboard charts from a particular country to see what’s currently popular is another way to find new international music.
Where to Listen to International Music
Now that you have a name, it’s time to find the actual music. Programs like Pandora and Spotify are great. Spotify will get you many of the most popular international songs, while Pandora is great for discovering similar bands to the ones you search and often times has lyrics right there on the page. Of course, don’t forget YouTube. It can also be a great source for online music and there are no playback limits.
Understanding the Lyrics
The next step is finding the lyrics. A simple Google search including the song title followed by the word “lyrics” is a sure fire way to find what you’re looking for.
Depending on your level you may or may not know what all these words mean. Google Translate is a great tool for this, though be wary: it’s not perfect, especially for slang words. You can also use a site like coolslang.com, which translates common slang words from multiple languages into their English equivalent.
There you have it! You’re now ready to start listening to some tunes and before you know it, you’ll be freestyling in German or rather, “freestylen in Deutsch!”
Thomas Samph and Alon Eisenberg, both graduates of Boston University, spent the year after their graduation teaching English abroad in France and Argentina, respectively. Both Thomas and Alon currently work at a New York City-based Internet education website, Grovo.com, a field guide to the Internet that helps people learn everything from Facebook Timeline and Pinterest to how to use Twitter.