Learning a new language gets harder for most of us once we’re past the age of 6 or 7. But one way to help make learning a foreign language easier, and perhaps just a bit cooler, for middle and high school students is to bring in a band.
In early November, MPS hosted a special event for students learning German. They brought in the German pop/hip hop and classical mash-up band Einshoch6 to the Milwaukee School of Languages.
Shirin Kasraeian is the project manager who is on tour with the band. She works with Deutsche Welle in Bonn, creating German language learning programs for people all around the world.
“I was looking for a band to work with because I think that learning languages with music works best," Kasraeian explains. "I saw this band at a festival, and I fell in love with them. So, we asked them if we could do this project. That’s how it all came about."
At first, they first produced videos and songs for their online platform. “Suddenly, there were requests from all around the world if we wanted to come and play live at schools and do workshops with students," she says. "We’ve been touring since 2013. We’ve been to Indonesia, Africa, all sorts of European countries, now we’re in the USA.”
The Milwaukee stop was the bands thirteenth US concert. Kasraeian says they chose the band because of its mix of classical and hip hop. "They have very nice lyrics, not typical hip hop gangster style music,” she says.
The distinctively named Sophonisba Franecki, an eighth grader at Glen Hills Middle School, was one of the attendees for the day's event. She says she appreciates learning German through singing, because she's also in choir. "It has helped my German speaking in terms of learning new vocabulary," she says.
She's also been able to contrast Einshoch6 with American bands. "Today, in America, we've got a more tense musical sound," she says. "These people have a happy sound that celebrates things like the weekend and social media."
Craig Robinson is a senior at the Milwaukee School of Languages and has been studying German since kindergarten. His mom is from Germany, and he has visited the country twice in the past three years.
Robinson says that he is enthusiastic about learning the language in part because of his firsthand experience with the culture. But also, he says, "[Because of] my German teachers, I hope they’re like that throughout Wisconsin, but here they want you to learn the culture because they feel it’s important for you to learn from another country: how they run things, how we run things and those cultural comparisons."
"When you exchange music, you learn a lot about other cultures," says Kasraeian. "Learning languages in general is a good thing. It's always good to see the world through different eyes, different cultures and languages. German didn't have a good standing for many years, but now, it's become cool to learn German."