Learning languages through music

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Music as a Learning Tool: Sing Your Way to Fluency!

Today we’ve got a guest post from Lucia Leite, a Portuguese native speaker who has a degree in English and German. At the moment she’s taking a Master’s degree in English as a second language for young learners, while improving her Spanish and French. I’ll leave you with her now…

Listening is an important first step in learning a new language.  Some call this the silent period – when you listen to the spoken language to reinforce vocabulary structures and learn speech patterns.

When you are studying a second language it is a good idea to find examples that you can listen to from podcasts and television shows to movies and music.

Listening, believe it or not, is a skill that needs to be practiced.  Listening and hearing are not the same thing.  You may hear a television on in the background but you are not actually listening to the dialogue that is being spoken.

Listening is an art and one must hone their skills to be good at it.  Active listening requires you to focus on the speaker to distinguish words, tone, and meaning.

If you listen to a language before you try to learn to speak it you will have a much better grasp of the pronunciation.  If you start out pronouncing words incorrectly it can be difficult to try to fix the error later on.

It does not matter if you don’t understand what you are listening to at first – the first stage of listening is to get a feel for the rhythm of the language and how sounds are pronounced.
You will learn new vocabulary as you continue on your learning journey.

Listening to music when you are learning a second language can help you as a learner.  It can increase a listener’s ability to distinguish specific sounds in the spoken word.

One thing to remember is that listening to music activates more of the brain than language does so singing something can help you to remember it more easily than simply saying it.  Remember when you used to study for a test and you would make up a little song to remember details?  The same thing applies for learning a second language!

Look for music in the language you are learning that appeals to you.  You Tube is a good place to start and you may even find music videos with subtitles so that you know the meaning of the lyrics as well.

The lyrics will help visual learners by stimulating another sense rather than just auditory.

Using song lyrics to help build your language vocabulary is helpful too.  When you listen to a song repeatedly you will start to pick out vocabulary words related to the story of the song.  This is much easier than trying to learn vocabulary words from a list with no particular relation or meaning.  When you learn vocabulary words from a list they do not tend to transfer to long term memory the way they do if you hear words in context.

Another way to use music in language learning is to put phrases you need to remember to a familiar tune.  Choose a simple song such as Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or Do-Re-Mi and substitute your phrase for the song lyrics.  Then you can sing the phrase over and over and it will be locked in your memory – the same way a catchy television commercial jingle stays in there forever!

Music also elevates your mood and we all know that learning is more fun when you are in a good mood and enjoying what you are doing.

There have been studies that show how music enhances creativity and also helps build vocabulary and writing skills – maybe that’s why musical parodies are so much fun!

Research has shown that adults who learn a second language by incorporating music speak the language twice as well as those not using music as a learning tool.  Singing when learning a language helps take advantage of the link between music and memory.

Those who sing when they learn a language have a better long term memory of the words and phrases that they learn.

Chiara Grandola

Hey there! I'm Chiara, also known as Claire on the language learning community. I'm deeply in love with any form of art, different cultures and... guess what?! Yes, languages!