The Structure and Sound of Language

Daily language lessons include a variety of activities to improve our comprehension and speaking skills.  Lithuanian has a complex grammatical system and we do a lot of grammar exercises to give us practice using various verb forms, in particular.  Participles, participles, participles!  We read articles and stories — not simplified “textbook” texts, but  Lithuanian texts from the “real world.”  And we talk a lot — we have group conversations or talk in pairs, using new vocabulary and grammatical forms. Practice, practice, practice!

All of this helps us to learn the structure of the Lithuanian language.  But we also do activities that help us hear the sound — the pronunciation, the rhythm, the flow — of the language.  We read poetry — repeating each line as a chorus after our teacher reads it and then each student reading the poem out loud individually.  We also listen to songs (ones in which the singer clearly articulates the words, of course).  Our teacher gives us the lyrics with certain words missing and we listen carefully to catch the words and fill in the blanks.  And then we sing!

One of the songs we learned this week is a poem by Marcelijus Martinaitis set to music by Vytautas Kernagis.  Kernagis is probably the most beloved musician in Lithuania.  He became popular as a singing poet in the 1970s and is still treasured today.  He gave voice to a nation during Soviet times and continued to perform until his death a few years ago.  I was surprised to discover that I haven’t written about Kernagis before now, so here is the song we listened to this week.


About amanda

Creating academic and public environments for the humanities to flourish Researching Soviet and Eastern European history Engaging people and ideas as a writer and interviewer Traveling as much as possible View all posts by amanda

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