Feb 27, 2017

Innovative way of picking up a new language > Earworms / Ohrwurm > 'Song stuck in your head' method

Ever had a song that you couldn't shake out of your head? 

Wait, that isn't even a question! Of course, you did. 

Everyone has had such an experience at least once with one or the other catchy piece of song or music that one just has playing in the background (sometimes even aloud)

They have an official term for it in German - Ohrwurm (From Ohr (“ear”) + Wurm (“worm”)). In English, this is popularly referred to as (no points for guessing here) Earworm and brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome.

So, what is an earworm? Specific patterns of sounds and beats and words tend to stick to your usable memory on repeated exposure. When these are songs or dialogues, they are fun, but also annoying after a while.

There have been a few studies here and there about earworms and these catchy tunes. Some examples: 
Many people have also studied how (and if it is possible) to get earworms out of your head!

So, what is the link of earworms with learning a new language? Research says that the naturalisation of a language and its sounds comes after hearing and repeating words and phrases often and for a long duration.

This is where earworms come into the picture. If you can convert your target language's phrases and words (with authentic pronunciation by a native) into some kind of a catchy song with some catchy tune, your brain may pick that up as an Earworm.

Of course, not all tunes and songs stick in your head, so you have to experiment with this.

This concept has also been put into commercialization by a company named (again no points for guessing) 'Earworms mbt (musical brain trainer)'.

They have designed catchy song based lessons with important and regularly used phrases and words pronounced by native speakers with translations.

They offer readily downloadable MP3 files with PDF notes for all the below listed languages:
  1. Arabic – Earworms language learning
  2. Chinese - Cantonese – Earworms language learning
  3. Chinese - Mandarin – Earworms language learning
  4. Dutch – Earworms language learning
  5. French – Earworms language learning
  6. German – Earworms language learning
  7. Greek – Earworms language learning
  8. Italian – Earworms language learning
  9. Japanese – Earworms language learning
  10. Polish – Earworms language learning
  11. Portuguese - European – Earworms language learning
  12. Portuguese - Brazilian – Earworms language learning
  13. Spanish - European – Earworms language learning
  14. Spanish - Latin American – Earworms language learning
  15. Russian – Earworms language learning
  16. Turkish – Earworms language learning

So, while I was starting German / Deutsch, I downloaded their Vol1 and Vol2 bundle MP3s for giving it a try. It works! 

Some of the phrases were so catchy, I picked them up in minutes and was 'singing' them to myself for days.

Phrases such as those with "Ich moechte" - I would like are part of the Vol 1 and these phrases are both the most important in spoken German as well as the most difficult to acquire naturally.

I would recommend these to you if you are trying your hand at picking up a new language and you want to sound natural while 'speaking' it. Of course, you would not really pick up grammar and written language skills with this method, but this will surely boost your confidence in the spoken part for at least the most used phrases and words.

Seems like a good deal to me!