The magic of Disney

A vital part of effective language learning is having fun. When something is enjoyable it is instantly more memorable. When I think back on the four years I spent at university I would struggle to give any meaningful details from the countless lectures that I attended but could paint a very vivid picture of the many adventures that I had with friends. The lectures were dull and unengaging so they created very weak memories that my brain only held onto for a short amount of time, whereas the many nights out and games we played created a long lasting memory because they were enjoyable. The same concept can be applied to language learning.

When I start learning a language I think about everything I enjoy doing in my daily life, like listening to the radio, watching films or playing games, and try to find a way that I can learn using it. This will then create a positive connection from the task I enjoy in my everyday life and the new information I am trying to contain. A single piece of information will be difficult to retain, so the more connections you can create, the better you will be able to recall it. I used to listen to Italian audio books on the drive to work and whenever I drive in that direction now I can recall the Italian I learn due to the combined connection.

The one method I have always found works well for me is watching Disney films. It may seem a little childish but I think that is the reason it works. If you can combine something that you have fond childhood memories of and a some new vocabulary, you are on to a winning formula. I find the songs particularly helpful because they are so catchy and I can almost recite them word for word in my native language which helps when learning new words.

Youtube will be the best place to look for most languages as there are numerous clips for every Disney film with multiple subtitles. Initially I would suggest having both English and foreign language subtitles so you can tune your ears and understand what is being said. Then as you progress, and remember the lyrics off by heart, you can gradually remove the English subtitles, and then foreign language, until you are able to recite it with no assistance. You will quickly find your ears are tuned to the language and you are learning a wealth of new vocabulary and grammar by simply singing along.

Here are some of my personal favourites for anyone else learning icelandic:
Fixer upper (Frozen)

Can’t wait to be king (Lion King)

Make a man out of you (Mulan)

Why not give it a try and let me know how you get on.

P.S. It may be worth also checking out FluentU. It is a great website that has lots of short clips with high quality audio, subtitles and translations. So if you are lucky enough to be learning a language they currently support (as I was when learning French) then I am sure you will find it useful.

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