Have you ever had a song in your head that you just couldn’t get rid of? Then you have experienced the phenomenon the German’s call an “Ohrwurm”… an Earworm. According to Wikipedia, an ‘Earworm… is a portion of a song or other music that repeats compulsively within one’s mind, put colloquially as “music being stuck in one’s head.”‘
Research demonstrates that adding words to music causes different parts of the brain to work together. Even more, research specifically into the effects of combining music and language learning demonstrated clear benefits for learners.
Knowing this, and knowing personally that my brain loves music, I went looking for resources that combined the power of music with language learning. There are many children’s videos on YouTube of course, but I wanted to see if I could find some professionally developed resources. At this point I felt I was a fairly strong A1 with my French, had already learned quite a lot of vocabulary in the four months I had been learning but needed to put words into phrases and sentences.
The one product I found came recommended by Donovan of MezzoGuild.com. Cleverly named Earworms Musical Brain Trainer (!), it is available in 15 languages, and had some great reviews… so I thought I would try out Rapid French Album 1.
- I was initially a bit disappointed at the lack of content. There were only 10 tracks, around 200 words, for AU$15. That’s fairly expensive. (However, I have since listened to the Pimsleur CDs, and they are similarly expensive, so maybe it is just the way it goes for auditory style learning resources.)
- It also wasn’t *truly* an earworm experience. The sentences were not sung. These sentences are spoken over the music track, so they aren’t really earworms in the true sense of the word. Also, because they aren’t tunes, I don’t find myself ‘singing’ them to myself, as I had expected. The tracks don’t stick in my head at all, so I get a benefit from listening to them, but not the persistent rehearsing I hoped for.
- I really liked the British accent of the English speaker in the French tracks.
- The French accent was also a lovely native and natural accent, easy on the ear
- The playfulness between the two speakers made me grin
- The way the sentences were spoken in full, then broken down into phrases, repeated several times, and then reconstructed in full again demonstrated both how the vocabulary sounded as a whole sentence, and then slowed it down enough for a learner to follow and practise.
- The scenario unfolded quite naturally – a sequence of natural scenes, with relevant vocabulary was in used in consecutive tracks
- The music tracks were pleasant to listen to, interesting musically, and the volume was quiet enough to hear the speakers clearly.
I felt the Rapid French tracks were good for absolute beginners – get your French ‘ear’ happening, teach basic day-to-day phrases, and they are especially useful for travellers who want to learn some phrases that will get them through their holiday. I suggest you download the demo first to get a feel for how they sound – if you decide to purchase, the Rapid French bundle is definitely the best value for money.