The Number 1 Foreign Language Learning Myth

April 17, 2012


Foreign Language Learning

Many times I’ve heard people give the excuse that they are not “good” in foreign languages because they don’t have an “ear” for languages.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Let me give you some examples of two half-deaf people and one legally deaf woman who prove this false notion about foreign language learning to be WRONG.

Legally Deaf Since Birth

Katrin, a deaf German friend of mine, learned to speak English because she listened to music. (She can speak and read lips but has very limited hearing.) Even those students who had better hearing than she did in her deaf school in Germany did not learn to speak and pronounce English as well as she did because they did not have any musical training or exposure to music.

Despite her hearing impairment, she played the flute as a child and listened to music. Feeling the sound vibrations impacted Katrin’s ability to sense the rhythm of music and language. The combination of the little that she could hear combined with the vibrations that she could feel from music enabled her to develop good speaking patterns in both German and English.

Watch the video below to see how a deaf German lady learned English via music and how you don’t have to have musical talent to learn a foreign language.


Note: In order to see this video with English or German subtitles, you have to press the CC button in the lower right side of the You Tube box and select English or German subtitles.

Deaf In One Ear

Another friend who is deaf in one ear is in China improving his Chinese. Now Chinese is tough for someone who is partially deaf because it’s a tonal language and you have to pay extra attention to the sound of the language. But he’s doing it.

Partially Deaf

My own mother is partially deaf and speaks English as her second language with an accent that’s not any stronger than that of a typical Russian. As a matter of fact, I know Russians who can hear with both ears, who have a stronger accent in English than she does.

It’s Not About Your Ears

Don’t let your hearing issues keep you away from appreciating and listening to music. You don’t need to have perfect pitch to follow these instructions. I am not a gifted musician and I tend to sing out of key more often than I like.

Humans Are Musical Beings

When we are born, we don’t start speaking automatically. We listen before we speak. When learning languages, we should follow this same pattern and listen to the music of the language before opening our mouths to pronounce words.

Start Listening Today

One ear, two ear or barely functioning ears, it’s not about your ears. Foreign language learning is
about your brain and your intention!

Photo by: Martha

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