Learning Languages using songs

Music is known to be a natural mnemonica tool that aids the memory. Many people will tell you they learned a new language by listening to music, watching shows on Netflix, or trying out podcasts. Language platforms such as Babbel even have Spotify playlists specifically geared at language learning.

Music works well as it will automatically introduce the listener to speech patterns in the foreign language. Plus, as people often sing along to a song (even in their own heads), this can facilitate verbatim memory of colloquial phrases.

We all know well the merits of listening to nursery rhymes as children, which aids language development in the mother-tongue. Listening to foreign songs helps in a similar way with second or indeed third, languages.

Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Erin Hannon, says, “The public should appreciate that there appear to be interesting links between language and music processing (especially during childhood). This is getting more attention lately, but language and music both develop in tandem and are key modalities of human communication.”

How to guide:

Start with simple songs

To begin with, use songs that are easy to understand with simple lyrics – repetitive if possible – so you can get to grips with the sound of the language and some vocabulary.

Use Lyrics

Find songs that have accompanying lyrics you can follow. This will enable you to single out words and phrases more clearly and it will help you to learn the spelling of the words. A good way to make the most of auditory and visual learning.

Sing along

Practise singing along to the song using the lyrics, even if you’re not a fan of karaoke. After a few goes, see if you can sing to the music without looking at the words. This will cement the vocab and syntax into your memory. As you reproduce the sounds, your accent will improve since you will naturally try to replicate what you hear.

Language-specific guides

If you search the net you will come across a good range of songs and playlists (or foreign language films).

Follow your interests

If you especially enjoy hip hop or rap for instance, find music specific to these genres and you’ll enjoy engaging with it. Or do you like football? Perhaps you can listen to chants in your target language and work out what they are saying. Famous Christmas carols in a foreign language is another good angle, as are national anthems.

Music and film are not only good ways for a student to advance their linguistic skills, but also to learn more about the people and culture linked to the language – a good way to enrich learning. Update those playlists now. Forza/Yalla/ поехали!

Suggested Links:

How To Use Music To Help You Learn A Language (babbel.com)

Tips for learning a new language through music (vistahigherlearning.com)

Learning a Language Through Music: How to Train Your Brain (berlitz.com)

Singing can facilitate foreign language learning | SpringerLink

The Potential Role of Music in Second Language Learning: A Review Article (efpsa.org)