Some time ago, I was coaching a choir that wanted to take part at a choir festival. In order to impress the rest of the choirs and the audience, the conductor had chosen parts of masses in Latin, as well as choral parts from operas in German, French, and Russian.
Though I speak German and Italian, French is not my strongest point, and as for Russian…well, the only thing I know how to say is “Da.” I coached them, however, through all the songs and when the time of the Festival came, their pronunciation was perfect in all four languages. So, how did I do it?
The answer to this question, as everything now-a-days, lies with Google. A little more than a year ago, in February of 2011, Google Translate unveiled its new translation feature that, other than translating between English and 64 more languages, it can, also, read out loud in a natural voice in 26 languages.
So, all I had to do, and all you have to do, is type the text in the translation box and hit the speaking button. If you want to sing in a language that uses a non-latin script, Google gives you an onscreen keyboard with the characters that you’ll need.
Most of the times if you Google the title of your song and “lyrics,” e.g. “Kalinka lyrics”, you’ll be able to find the lyrics online and at that point, all you’ll have to do is copy and paste them in the translation box. Paste only small chunks of text at a time, so that you can play them again easily until you master the pronunciation.
Think about how professional your choir will sound by pronouncing Latin, Italian, German, French, Spanish and 20 more languages correctly. Being able to work on foreign songs without a language coach at hand, gives you access to repertoire that no one else will tackle and at competitions this can make a difference.
So next time you’re considering a foreign song, keep Google Translate at hand, not only to translate the text, but, also, to learn how to pronounce it. Here are 26 languages Google Translate will read text in a natural, native voice:
- Haitian Creole