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Book Review: Language is Music

Language is Music

Susanna Zaraysky and Language is Music…

I’ve read a number of books about learning languages. Some are made up of information that anyone can find on their own with a google or two. Others are written by thoughtful people sharing actual experiences of their own. Susanna is such a thoughtful person and Language is Music is such a book.

A child of Soviet immigrants struggling with English, Susanna Zaraysky grew up in California, then went on to study ten languages and speak seven languages fluently. Susanna’s language skills paved the way for her to live in nine countries and travel to fifty. Impressive.

In her new book, Language is Music, Susanna teaches you how to immerse yourself in your target language to make learning languages a part of your daily living.

While reading Dr. Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, about the neurological aspects of music, I became inspired to write about how music helped me learn foreign languages.

After solving my personal mystery about why I was so dexterous in learning foreign languages, I developed fun tricks and lessons to enable others to be successful.

In Language is Music, I share these listening methods so that anyone can have fun learning any language. The book has over 70 tips and 90 free or low-cost Internet resources that teach enthusiasts how to use daily activities, such as watching T.V. or listening to music; conversation partners; and attendance at cultural events to become masterful speakers of any tongue.

Language is Music table of contents…

  1. Conductor’s Notes
    Tips on how to think of language as music.
  2. Listen, Listen, Listen
    Suggestions for listening to music in your target language.
  3. Concert Time
    Play your instrument by speaking.
  4. Radio Time
    Tune into a new frequency online or off.
  5. Television for Homework
    Learn to speak by watching TV.
  6. Films to Fluency
    Learn languages from the stars.
  7. Be Part of the Symphony
    Speak with others in your target language.
  8. Day-to-Day
    Exercises to ingrain the language into your brain with daily rhythms.

While Susanna shares many tips to help you get over your language learning hump, the tip below spoke to me personally.

Give up your ego. If you are a perfectionist, you need to take on an alter-ego of a fearless person who makes mistakes in your new language.

My father was a producer of musicals when I was growing up. I was a painfully shy young thing, but the inevitable happened – he put me in one of his plays. And then another.

I discovered that if I was playing a part, I was no longer the shy me. I was whoever I needed to be at that time.

So I can see how this very same trick can be used for language learners who are either shy or perfectionist, or both. As I have nothing to lose, I’ll certainly give it a try.

Susanna can be found at Create Your World Books. You can purchase Language is Music here.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

6 Comments

  1. I just want to make the point that this is not a ‘for pay’ post. I simply enjoyed reading Susanna’s book and wanted to share it with you. Because no one can have too many helpful resources to learn a language!

  2. Cat, thanks so much for sharing this. I have been struggling for years learning Gaelic, which is an oral not written language, and very melodic… Just recently thought about trying to boost my learning by singing some of the wonderful songs and helping to get the rhythm flowing (and less my inhibitions and perfectionism…)

    So this comes at a good time for me, and sounds like a good resource for me to try

  3. Joanna, I believe you would get a lot out of Susanna’s book. After spending this past year reading everything I could find about how to learn languages, I thought that there were no new tips left. I was wrong.

    Gaelic must be extremely difficult to study. For me, if I can’t read Thai, I can’t get it into my head. It is like I need to own every bit before it sticks.

    (Please excuse any wonky sentences either in my post or these comments. My sleep this week is awful so my words are not coming out right)

  4. If language is like music then Thai must be like the Black Sabbath played on 78 rpm lol.

    Some good tips and yet more reason for me to hang out in Thai karoke joints…although I tend to drink a bit much when there. There is still my Thai soaps to help out though!

  5. ‘Thai must be like the Black Sabbath played on 78 rpm’ lol! You are so right. Yesterday I flipped through channel after channel looking for something I could stick with. I think I’m going to do what Susanna advised in her book – tape a program and watch it until you know everything that they are saying. Write it down too. Sounds good to me.

  6. To Joanna Young: I also tried without success to get Gaelic into my head, until I started singing Clannad’s songs. Later on I added other Irish singers and then it became easier. Yes, Language is Music. Try both the book and the tips in it. Singing to those tunes now makes it easy for me to ask: “Ó bhean an tí, cén bhuairt sin ort?”

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