Posts Tagged ‘Language is Music’

Listening to (and Saving) the World’s Languages (New York Times)

April 30, 2010

Here’s a great article, Listening to (and Saving) the World’s Languages

Dr. Oliver Sacks on language and music

June 30, 2009

My admiration for Dr. Oliver Sacks is no secret. He was just on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night talking about the effects of music on the brain. I am thrilled that he was discussing this on mainstream TV as more people watch The Daily Show than have read his excellent book, Musicophilia. He discussed that even after a stroke, people will still remember music even if they forget language. I wonder what would happen to someone who had learned another language through music. Would he/she have a better chance of retaining their language skills after a stroke?

Watch this clip from The Daily Show:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=231589&title=oliver-sacks

This man is a wonderful gift to humanity.

The power of telenovelas

March 13, 2009

About 10 days ago, I stayed up quite late searching YouTube for video clips from Mexican telenovelas (soap operas) to use for a public radio piece about mybook, Language is Music.

I was laughing at myself as I was watching Latin American melodrama on the small screen and could only imagine the reactions of some radio listeners wondering if I was really serious about using soap operas to learn a foreign language

As silly as it may sound, melodrama has its educational benefits. Flying glass, hysterical women, philandering men, people coming back from the dead, unrequited love, broken hearts, battles of the heart — all much more interesting than studying grammar and vocabulary.

It’s not that watching Columbian drama queens and Mexican pop stars all day can replace the much needed lessons on sentence structure and grammar, but they can at least engage the viewer. The vocabulary is not complicated and is oft repeated, so eventually the words will register with their meaning if the viewer watches the soap opera frequently

I knew people in Bosnia who watched Latin American soap opera during the war (when they had electricity) and learned Spanish or Portuguese quite well from watching the programs.

After going through many episode segments of Thalia’s famous Mexican telenovelas, I settled on a lovers’ quarrel from Betty La Fea (Ugly Betty) laced with some sweet Columbian Spanish.

As long as the telenovelas don’t infuse you with new melodramatic characteristics, try them. You might learn a lot more Spanish or Portuguese than you expected! Watch the originals and not the dubbed versions in English.