Tag Archives: Irish

My cups to the Cup Song: the cover song as a great motivational learning tool in any language

Coláiste Lurgan, whose work I have profiled in the last 2 posts as a shining example of how to motivate language learning, has a lot of offer us by using famous cover songs reworked in the target language.

In addition to Avicii’s ‘Wake me up’ in Gaelic (see my Wake me up post about that great clip), one other Lurgan reworking has had the same amount of amazing global viral success (i.e. millions of hits): it’s the Cup Song in Gaelic shown below.

The Cup Song, otherwise known as ‘When I’m gone’ (Cups), is a recent reworking of a country classic from 1931 that appears in the recent teen smash movie ‘Pitch Perfect’. The new version sung by Anna Kendrick in the movie includes lots of people doing clever syncopated tapping using cups, glasses, whatever… Of course kids already know all about it and love it (hey it’s different!). So you can imagine how much fun it is for the kids at Coláiste Lurgan. Click here and see for yourself:

 


Amhrán na gCupán
(That’s Gaelic for ‘Cup Song’)

It’s got everything: sound, movement, coordination, great song…. Kids are immediately connected to their own popular culture (originally experienced in English), but are fascinated and motivated by the opportunity to experience it and, this is critical, to produce it themselves in another language, This song is especially good because of the need for group discipline, and physical coordination as well as the combination of a range of senses (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic…). There’s also the opportunity for kids to sing together and separately – and to be filmed and to be seen posted online. Kids today want to be visible

No wonder the kids at the end of the Gaelic version are so happy! It really works and language teachers could easily do the same everywhere.

There are thousands of clips on youtube about how to tap glasses/cups correctly – in a range of languages.  It’s also been covered in a range of different languages too…..

There are so many ways a teacher could approach this song as a learning activity. Here are just a few ideas.

There are lots of clips online – in different languages – about how to do the cups. Use those or do your own.

Create the necessary instructional vocab for your kids – model it for them

Get them to help translate the original text into the target language but make sure the final translation is grammatically accurate.

Get your music teacher involved. Get the kids to play the music. Or buy the backing track on iTunes. make sure all kids sing at some point. All instruction should be in the target language.

Do it for school assembly, language day, concert night, video it (with happy faces) and post it…. Tell the kids to send it around. Make language learning visible!

Let your colleagues know about this post. See what they think about the embedded clip – the reaction is always positive.

Try the Cup Song with your kids and let me know (with video proof) how it went 🙂

 

Coláiste Lurgan – you rock! A role model for language learning everywhere.

In my previous post ‘Wake me up..’ I talked in detail about an unexpected challenge to the Anglobubble that has gone viral and helped to change entrenched attitudes to language learning. I posted a great clip of Avicii’s ‘Wake me up’ sung in translation by hundreds of excited and happy language learners. I have watched and played that clip many times over. It’s not just the kids’ enthusiasm, the production values are great and that certainly helps. I didn’t reveal the language or the country other than the fact the latter is deep in the Anglobubble (despite having its own national language).

Time for the big reveal: the language is Irish Gaelic, and it’s Ireland of course (the Irish dancing was the giveaway). But the mouse that roared that’s behind the music phenomenon is Coláiste Lurgan – a summer residential school for kids. They’ve been translating hit songs from English and getting their students (and teachers) to sing, record and film them for a few years now.

Their great work has really taken off in the last 12 months – with a number of viral clips – millions of hits and growing. Why exactly has it taken off right now? Well, a number of reasons come to mind. Most of the first Gaelic clips were revoiced versions of the original clips sung in English, i.e. the original visual (e.g. Lady Gaga singing) was kept but the soundtrack replaced. They have increasingly shifted to high quality filming of the kids singing – you not only hear their voices, you see them front and centre – often with a little choreography. They now also have a big repertoire of famous covers so you can just keep exploring! And clearly there’s the power of word of mouth and social media. All of these factors make a huge difference!

The kids really shine – and their enthusiasm and discipline are irresistible. All of a sudden Gaelic and language learning  are cool. These kids really are role models for young language learners in the Anglobubble everywhere.

Some of my favourites are included here. It’s hard to believe but I enjoy them more in Gaelic than in English – because I don’t know what’s being sung! Bastille had a huge international hit with ‘Pompeii. But I like the plaintive lead vocal from one of the teachers in the glorious Gaelic version seen here:

 

The clip has been so successful that when it was uploaded on the web it was competing with Will and Kate for top spot on Youtube.  How cool is that! That’s a great motivator for students  and teacher involved, I’m sure.

After American superstars Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had a massive hit with the super upbeat ‘Can’t hold us‘, they heard about the Irish version and were so intrigued they asked to be included in the video – speaking Gaelic. Again how cool is that! Here’s Can’t hold us in Gaelic.

There are lots of others given the Lurgan treatment, e.g. Lady Gaga, Passenger, Lion King, Abba,  Michael Jackson. Even ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke and co-workers gets  reworked by our Gaelic learning and loving kids as An Laisc Is Mó.

 

 

I have no idea what they are singing but I know they’re plugging in to the zietgeist and loving it.

This stuff really works to motivate language learning. We need to use it. See my previous blog for some ideas on how. And tell your friends. Try it yourself!

More soon 🙂

Wake me up – I mean really Wake me up. Or how, deep in the Anglobubble, language learning can be surprisingly motivating

Today I want to focus on a youtube sensation I have stumbled across that says a lot about how to motivate English-speaking teenagers to learn another language. I’ve quickly become addicted to the clips in question (taster clip below) and find them not only entertaining but intriguing and inspiring.

So here’s the back story:

Deep in the Anglobubble, kids whose first language is English have to learn a language till completion of secondary school. It’s a struggle. Many don’t like it – they don’t see the relevance and teaching methods tend to focus on the written form, rather than on interactive use of the language. Outcomes are poor, despite the apparent effort, and educators wring their hands at what to do (sound familiar?). At least languages education in this part of the Anglobubble is compulsory …..

A residential summer language school that needs to keep high school students busy and interested when it’s too wet outside to do anything in the breaks decides to do something different. The lightbulb idea is to translate the lyrics of famous pop songs in English into the language the kids are learning, and then get the kids to sing the songs, record them and put them online – to share with everyone around the world. They start with Thriller in 2010 and over time build up an expanding repertoire – all available on Youtube. Their video clips are clever – sometimes they ‘revoice’ existing clips of famous singers/bands in the new language, other times they make their own clips with the kids front and centre. By 2013 they’ve hit the big time – a number of their translated music clips go viral: people are sharing them around the world, the media get interested and more tellingly the pop megastars in question express their delight at being ‘reworked’ in a language you’d be hard pressed to pick and you’ve likely never heard.

Amongst the biggest viral successes is Wake me Up – in translation (3.5 million hits and rising). Have a listen. It’s hard not to be intrigued – you recognize the music, you know the song but you have no idea what they are singing. You just want to know more.

 

The kids’ enthusiasm is infectious – and you really can hear their voices (the lead singer in this case is a teacher). It’s inspiring stuff, curiously addictive – and people around the world (in a range of languages) are interested. It’s all over the social media and has quickly made its way into the blogosphere, traditional press and media – including TV performances.

The original English version is the creation of the bilingual Swede DJ Avicii and was a smash hit around the world in the northern summer of 2013 –  including no.1 throughout the Anglobubble (including Australia). Here’s the first line of the chorus the song title is from:

So wake me up when it’s all over

It seems much more interesting in the target language and in the free translation:

So Lig mé saor ón suan ‘tá orm (lit. So free me from this slumber of mine)

Have you worked out what language the clip is in and what country I am talking about?

English monolingualism is strongly rooted here. I’ll leave you thinking and guessing for the moment.

As is clearly evident in the clip, significant physical/mental/emotional participation in the process of learning the song/language, making the clip, dancing and singing has clearly helped to motivate the students. Listen to the enthusiastic cheering at the end – that’s real!

Language teachers everywhere could easily do the same with their students: translate well-known pop songs into the target language, use children’s existing musical skills (if possible) as well as physical movement (e.g. simple choreography or free dance). You could easily create an end of term dance party if you had a repertoire. Even better, record the students and post on youtube, and on social media. Teenagers appear to enjoy a bit of online limelight.

What a great classroom/school project!

And more on other clips from this particular connection soon 🙂

Worked out the language and country yet? I might just leave you thinking a little longer.

I’ll come back in another post and do the big reveal. I still have a lot to say about this summer school/college and its fantastic work.