The Sound Education Revolution: Why Everyone Should Be Using Soundcloud to Learn and Teach Language

In my first guest post on this blog – The Flow of Fluency: How to Freestyle Rap in a Foreign Language – I discussed my approach of learning language through rapping and mimicry.  In my second guest post – How I learned to rap in Four languages I don’t speak in one night using Free Application “Audacity”– I go into detail about my techniques for entraining the acoustic patterns, or “Flow”, of a foreign language through song training.   In both of these posts, I repeatedly harp on one central theme: Language is about sound.

As obvious a statement this may be, I find myself repeating it often, as the adult language learning conversation seems to focus on everything but sound.  The forums are overrun with posts discussing the best ways to learn grammar and memorize vocabulary and characters, but rarely does anyone go into any useful detail about how things sound.

Of course, part of the problem is that most of the conversation is written, and clearly communicating how something sounds through writing alone can be tricky, if not impossible.  After all, we are talking about sound, and sound needs to be heard.

Fortunately, The Social Web Revolution has enabled us to more easily generate, share and engage multimedia content.  In this post, I will discuss what I consider to be the best tool for building conversations around sound – Soundcloud.  I will describe in detail how you can use Soundcloud to:

  •  Get valuable feedback on your language abilities from anyone for free.
  •  Teach over 100 students for profit with less than 4 hours of work/week.  

Get ready for the Sound Education Revolution….

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The “Flow” of Fluency: How to Freestlye Rap in a Foreign Language

Aside

While living in Rio de Janeiro last year, I would religiously attend the “Rap na Farani” hip hop event every thursday in Farani park, a block away from Botafogo beach. In these gatherings, amateur musicians would break off into separate “rodas” or ciphers and rap improvised lyrics over live guitar and percussion instrumentals.

I randomly stumbled upon the event on my way home one evening, and once I realized what it was, I knew I couldn’t leave without kickin’ a little sumthin’ sumthin’ real quick in English. Taking advantage of the fact that I look more Brazilian than most Brazilians, I threw the audience for a loop when I started my rap in Portuguese and transitioned smoothly to an English freestyle:

Ninguem me entende, quando eu falo/ Eu sou americano com sotaque carioco/ oops *carioca, por favor desculpa/ mas deixa-me speak English and I promise you no Bullsh*%t!

English: No one understands me when I speak/ I am an American with a Rio-native (Rio-native intentionally pronounced wrong) accent/ Oops I mean “Rio-native,” please excuse me/ but let me speak English and I promise you know Bullsh*%t

The audience was impressed, but I was disappointed in myself. I had considered myself “fluent” in Portuguese and prided myself on my English freestlying ability, but it took me almost 15 minutes of serious mental exertion just to conjure up those two mediocre bars of Portuguese rap. I had a strong sense that my Portuguese was missing a certain “something,” and I resolved there and then to find out exactly what that “something” was by hunkering down and stepping up my Portuguese rap game.

Unexpectedly, after an intense week of listening to and rapping Portuguese, my normal Portuguese skills improved drastically. I no longer needed to actively listen or think of things in my head first before speaking.  Portuguese just felt easy to me all of a sudden.

The “something” I was after was starting to take shape within me, and now that I know what exactly that “something” is, I am convinced that it is THE most valuable asset for a language learner to have.

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