I queried an editor at France magazine and tried to sell them a story on St. Pierre and Miquelon. They weren’t interested, but they asked if they could use me in the monthly column How I Learn FRENCH.
So here I am in the March 2012 issue.
Months before my trip to France, I began listening to a CD known as earworms : a musical brain trainer. My goal: to become familiar with basic words and common phrases.
I readily admit I struggle with foreign language; found French torturous in high school and college. My brain just doesn't want to think in another tongue.
But, I gave earworms a try. I played the oral lessons, really more like rhythmic tunes, in my office. I honestly didn't study or concentrate on the CD's. However, I listened to volumes 1 and 2 many times.
When I got to France, I actually comprehended some conversation. Menus could be deciphered with a reasonable amount of certainty. I confidently ordered a coffee or a bottle of wine since those were the first things I mastered. My grasp of basic phrases seemed automatic, almost magical.
One morning a waiter spoke to me, just rattling along and when he finished, I casually replied with my room number– in French. My daughter looked at me stunned. How did you understand all that, she wondered?
And..frankly, I did too. Must have been those earworms!
I sincerely recommend earworms.
Today I’m starting an experiment. I’m attempting to learn some basic French through listening to musical earworms. Earworms are a new technique designed to help one recall basic words and phrases. As I listen, they are supposed to burn the language into my longer-term memory. An impressive goal.
I play a CD containing specially composed melodies with rhythmic repetitions. The instructions say, “You don’t have to concentrate too hard, in fact you shouldn’t try to actively concentrate, just sit back, relax and listen and let your brain do the learning.”
A booklet of the 200 essential words and phrases is included, which I’m told to review. Links to a website (http://www.earwormslearning.com/) provide me with memory hooks. These are word associations that assist in memorization and understanding.
I’m giving Volume 1 a try and will report back on my progress. So far the music sounds like the elevator type, but I have already mastered asking for a cup of coffee and a bottle of wine. Heck-that may be all I need for my trip to France in June.