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Learning German with Earworms MBT

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 9/11/2012
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Get your feet hopping and your brain working with this new language learning method combining music and vocabulary.

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    What Earworms MBT is.

    MBT stands for Musical Brain Trainer. The concept of this language learning tool was developed by Marlon Lodge, an English teacher living in Germany.

    It is based on the principle that music, entering the aural cortex, will indelibly remain in your brain and, if combined with words and phrases of the language you want to learn, will nearly automatically anchor the words in your memory.

    Listening to catchy tunes or "earworms" associates the words. You can use this method while doing other things like exercising, spinning, cooking and driving. The effect of the method is brainwashing in the very best sense of the word.

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    Set up

    I was given Earworms "Rapid German" volume 1 to test. The set consists of a CD, divided into 10 sections, which teach 200+ essential words and phrases. It is also available in MP3 Audio and Apps.
    The sections are:
    1. I would like
    2. To order
    3. Have you got..?
    4. To the airport
    5. Numbers, days and times
    6. Is there..?
    7. Directions
    8. Where & what time?
    9. Problems, problems
    10. Do you speak English?
    Volume 2, which I did not receive, so have not personally reviewed, contains conversations focused on talking about yourself, your occupation and your family. The CD is accompanied by a booklet with the written text of the words and phrases you hear in German and English. It's recommended to familiarize yourself with the written words in the booklet, at least when listening to the CD for the first time and that's indeed good advice. In addition the booklet explains some grammatical particularities of the German language, like putting the verb at the end. It also contains a few, easy exercises.
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    Getting started

    • The first section, called Ich moechte - I very much liked. It starts out with very soothing music, much in the style of tunes used in relaxation tapes. An invitation is issued by the speaker to relax, lean back and enjoy, while "burning" the foreign words into your memory.
    • The English speaker is male and the German speaker is female. Both voices are very pleasant to listen to and the pronunciation is flawless. Listening to these speakers you really hear correct German, which is very important because pronunciation is always a difficulty when learning a new language.

    • Short phrases are repeated approx. six times each, all with a very catching musical background. The text is not dry and boring repetition either, but interrupted with some humorous phrases like: A beer - ein Bier. Oh, that's the same word as in English, how great.

    • The words and music are no doubt "earworms" and you feel the urge to sing and dance along with them. Listen to the CD often enough and you are sure to learn basic German not "in your sleep" but wide awake and without any noticeable effort. The English speaker is male and the German speaker is female. Both voices are very pleasant to listen to and the pronunciation is flawless. Listening to these speakers you really hear correct German, which is very important because pronunciation is always a difficulty when learning a new language.
    • Short phrases are repeated approx. six times each, all with a very catching musical background. The text is not dry and boring repetition either, but interrupted with some humorous phrases like: A beer - ein Bier. Oh, that's the same word as in English, how great.
    • The words and music are no doubt "earworms" and you feel the urge to sing and dance along with them. Listen to the CD often enough and you are sure to learn basic German not "in your sleep" but wide awake and without any noticeable effort.
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    Ordering and costs

    Available Earworms language learning courses, for English speakers, are:
    • Arabic
    • Brazilian Portugese
    • Cantonese
    • Dutch
    • French
    • German
    • Greek
    • Italian
    • Japanese
    • Mandarin Chinese
    • Polish
    • Portugese
    • Russian
    • Spanish
    • Turkish

    The price varies depending on the language, volume and format (CD or MP3). The Earworms MBT website lists everything in pounds, but you can quickly check out Amazon.com for US pricing.

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    Pros and Cons

    • I used the CD with my computer and there were no problems at all. It's also compatible with iPods and other portable devices, but I haven't tried that out.
    • Completing the first volume will give the pupil a very basic knowledge of German every day words and phrases. It should be enough for a holiday. but it's not enough to read a paper or a book in German, but that isn't the purpose of the course either.
    • A friend who listened to the CD with me, found the musical background "irritating" and much preferred the conventional approach. I on the other hand found it pleasing, and the words and phrases did stick in my ear and brain, remembering the music. It's probably a question of personal taste and try a sample, before purchasing the course.
    • When clicking on the link, go to "language audio" and then select the language you are interested in. In my opinion it's good value for money, and I would rate the program 4 out of 5. The only drawback is, that the music can become somewhat predominant and prevail over the purpose of the course which, after all, is learning a new language.
    • How much time will you need to spend before the course is successfully completed? That's difficult to assess and depends on the learning abilities of each individual pupil and the difficulty of the language. If you combine a daily 15 minute workout, walk or other exercise with the sections of the CD, three weeks is a reasonable time to complete the course.
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