A unique musical approach to language teaching

Martina Schwarz, born in Cologne, is a London based musician, songwriter-composer, performer, choir leader and educator. She holds a degree in education (Cologne University) and has a long-standing background as a teacher of German and music in primary education.

“Heiß ist nicht cool!” is Martina’s brand new song programme about climate change which she is touring in primary schools and elsewhere outside of Corona-times. Here are two song samples as a taster: ‘Trees, trees!’ and  ‘Mensch’, a song about mindful travelling.

Rodet nicht die Wälder     

Martina has always believed that music is an excellent vehicle for language learning, as language in itself is music with its own rhythm and intonation. Inspired by the young MFL learners themselves, she soon discovered that the tunes and rhymes she invented for language lessons worked: They helped the children memorise new vocabulary and phrases as well as being fun to sing and act out. “Can we sing this song again?”

The songs were not only sung in the classroom or at assembly but also in the playground and at home. No more encouragement did Martina need to continue writing more and more catchy tunes and lyrics for almost every primary curriculum topic. Martina is performing her musical language learning programme in schools and other venues all over Europe. The tours are often organised by the Goethe-Institute.

Martina on a concert tour in the Czech Republic: primary school children have fun with the days of the week (Das Wochenlied). Photo: Jiří Příborský

Ordering teaching materials

Martina was delighted to collaborate with the Goethe-Institute and have her ideas beautifully produced in the form of two language learning resources, “Learn German with Songs” and “Learn more German with Songs”.

The books and CDs, which include English translations of all the songs, can be ordered from the Goethe-Institute online shop: Order Learn German with Songs (blue book) and Learn More German with Songs (red book)  The latter has also been published by the German publisher Hueber-Verlag as “Spielerisch Deutsch lernen, Lieder und Reime”.