Want to Make Language Learning Easier? Rhymes to the Rescue!

Learning a foreign language can be fun, but boring. Anything you can do to speed up learning or make learning a language more fun is a valuable weapon in your learning arsenal. Kathy Steinemann shares a useful and unique approach to solving this problem.

Let’s look at the following two sections of the text:

Version 1

The sky is blue today. I’m on the beach. The bully punches me in the face. It’s a pity for him! Here are my bodyguards!

Version 2

One, two, such a blue sky. Three, four, sandy shore. Five, six, the tyrant kicks. Seven, eight, he decided his fate. Nine, ten, here are my arrows!

Now go back and read the poems again.

Have you noticed that you have already started to look forward to what will happen next in the second version?

Bottom line: it’s easier to memorize rhymed verses than to memorize prose.

So, what are the implications for learning a foreign language?

Memorizing well-written poems in a modern foreign language can speed up the learning process. (Note the keyword “modern.”)

Poetry of the 18th century can have great cultural and educational significance. But words written on the page more than 300 years ago use outdated vocabulary, spelling and grammar.

As an example, consider the popular version of the King James Bible. If you start using “you” and “you” in your daily speech, people will understand you, but they will treat you like an alien in the distortion of time.

You can search the Internet for poems by modern authors. Try these searches:

parallel translation of poems
parallel translation of poems
parallel translation of poems from German to English
parallel translation of poems from French to English
parallel translation of the poetry of Italian English
parallel translation of Spanish English verses
If necessary, replace the search terms with the name of the specific language you are learning. Browse any web pages you find with a tutor, teacher, or someone who knows to determine the suitability of grammar and vocabulary.

Try to make the poems dictated and recorded by the native speaker. Carefully read the poems while listening to the recordings. This will improve your verbalization skills. If you’re lucky, you’ll find online audio with some lyrics.

Are you an aspiring poet? Try to compose your own poems in a foreign language.

No poetic talent? Try the following simple approach. For example, if you are learning German, you can create a poem like this:

Dog – der Hound

mouth – der Mund

Air – Die Luft

perfume – der Duft

buzzing – challenge

growl – beat

Little Little

Clean – keep

brood – gr’beln

iron – b’geln

You don’t have to worry about grammar – just definitions, pronunciation, gender and spelling. Alcor (alcor.com.au) has several rhyme dictionaries that can help you in the process.

If you have a sound dictionary on your computer, listen carefully to the pronunciation of each word. There are also excellent online dictionaries with sound.

Now make your own recording of the verses using sound recording software.

First, dictate each English word or phrase and save it as a separate file.
Then save audio clips in a foreign language from the dictionary or the Internet.
Now download the audio recording software and play the files in the correct order. Try to make short productions lasting one or two minutes.
If necessary, edit to eliminate excessive pauses or add final articles.
Finally, convert to MP3 or WMA. Now you can use your iPod or portable media player for more than just music.

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