Knowing that when I get a song stuck in my head it guarantees I learn the lyrics, I was interested to see if there was a language learning tool that might help me learn French. Earworms Musical Brain Trainers are designed to be exactly that, so I decided try the French Earworms product and review it for you.
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.”‘
(For a fun example of an earworm song that will definitely stick with you, and show you why it’s a great way to learn languages, check this video out :D)
Why the interest in Earworms?
Many language learners suggest using music as a fun way to be exposed to a new language. Personally, listening to foreign music helps me to really internalise phrases. I also find musical mnemonics and children’s songs are helpful in the quest to acquire new languages.
And the evidence in favour of learning with music is not only anecdotal. 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.
So, 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 language learning resources.
(At this point I felt I was a fairly strong A1 with my French. I 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 isn’t a truly earworm experience. The sentences are 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 “stuck in my head” rehearsing I hoped for.
- I really like the British accent of the English speaker in the French tracks.
- The French accent is also a lovely native and natural accent, easy on the ear
- The playfulness between the two speakers makes me grin
- The sentences are spoken in full, then broken down into phrases, repeated several times, and then reconstructed in full again. This demonstrates both how the vocabulary sounds as a whole sentence, and then slows it down enough for a learner to follow and practise.
- The scenario unfolds quite naturally – a sequence of natural scenes, with relevant vocabulary is in used in consecutive tracks
- The music tracks are pleasant to listen to, interesting musically, and the volume was quiet enough to hear the speakers clearly.
I felt the Rapid French tracks were great for beginners. You can get your French ‘ear’ happening and learn basic day-to-day phrases. They are especially useful for travellers who want to learn some phrases that will get them through their holiday. For me, having already internalised a reasonable amount of vocabulary, they were a little basic. 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.