Learning English with Elsa

Read this in Dutch – Read this in Italian

Today, I looked up the lyrics of ‘let it go’ from the movie ‘Frozen’ with my 3,5 year old daughter. Easier said than done. Should I pick the Dutch, English or Italian version?

Let me explain why I wanted to look up the lyrics in the first place. She loves to sing. Whether she’s on her bike, playing with building blocks or designing, she’s usually also singing with that. Lately, this is how that goes:

“Let it go, let it go,
Here I stand, in the light
Laat het los, laat het gaan (‘let it go’ in Dutch)
Vertel me niet wat ik niet mag doen (‘don’t tell me what to do’ in Dutch)
Let it goooo, let it goooooo…”

And so on. I wanted to help her (and myself ;-)) add some extra phrases to the song. We found the English sing-a-long on Youtube, so we went with English. We started singing and after I while, I actually got the idea she had picked up one or two extra phrases. Even though she doesn’t really know what she’s singing.


During an experiment in 2008, subjects were exposed to the series of ‘words’ above. When a computer ‘speaks’ these words, subjects need 21 minutes to be able to tell whether words like ‘gimisy’ are part of the series or not. When the words are sung, it takes about 7 minutes.

Apparently sung language helps in language acquisition. An extra advantage my daughter’s case is that it’s all so playful. That’s important to me, especially when it comes to increasing exposure time to the minority language.


A while later, we heard ‘Despacito’ on the radio. She asked me what language this was, and I told her it was Spanish. She also wanted to know where people use Spanish.

When she heard it’s also the main language of Spain, she said: “Oh, so this song is for Sinterklaas?”

Traditionally, Sinterklaas comes from Spain with his boat, but when he arrives here, he magically speaks Dutch. So, no need to learn ‘Despacito’ for him šŸ™‚

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