Years ago, while I was studying French at L’Alliance Française, our instructor would give us sheets of lyrics for singing along to music she would play in class. This activity began just as soon as the course did, so in the early days of learning we obviously had no idea what we were singing. We would enthusiastically join in for the chorus, and mumble something for the verses. Gradually as our vocabulary improved, we had some inkling of the meaning of the songs. Students would receive a new song sheet every other day, and our teacher also gave out the CD containing the songs to be circulated among the class. Some of the songs we learnt in the lessons, but there were many others in the CD that she asked us to listen to at home – in an attempt to pick out words without looking at lyrics.
Music is a great accompaniment to learning a new language. In the early stages of learning, one tends to think in their native tongue, translate mentally, and then produce the new language – resulting in a staccato effect while speaking. Singing songs early on lends fluidity to speech later – helping the brain to string all those words. And listening to songs assists in picking up words and understanding verses – again helping the brain to perceive what is being said when one does engage in conversation.
I still remember many of the songs we sang all those years ago. One which particularly stands out is ‘Voyage Voyage’ by Desireless – a beautiful number about travelling the world. Literally translated to ‘Travel Travel‘, the lyrics encourage eternal travel to beautiful, wonderful, breathtaking places and sacred destinations around the world. Written by Dominique Albert Dubois and Jean-Michel Rivat, and recorded by Claudie Fritsch-Mentrop who went by the stage name ‘Desireless’ and released it in 1986 as the first single from her album ‘François‘, the song became a huge hit all over the globe. Despite being sung entirely in French, it broke through language barriers on music charts and featured in the top slots internationally between 1986 and 1988. (Ironically it missed the number one spot in France, peaking at second position for four weeks, behind Elsa Lunghini’s ‘T’en Vas Pas‘.) The music video was directed by Bettima Rheims, and premiered in France in December 1986.
Mexican band ‘Magneto’ created a Spanish version in 1991 titled ‘Vuela Vuela‘, and Belgian singer Kate Ryan released a cover version in her 2008 album ‘Free’. Here are the lyrics to the original French song. Sing (and maybe dance) along! And get inspired to plan out your next trip. (I’m unable to get the video to play on this page. Click the link below for a video of the song.)