“Barbie” is probably the cutest slang ever for “barbecue”, but wait ‘till you find out more, mate!
Music has been a part of our lives for thousands of years. From the rhythmic beats that make our feet tap to the soulful melodies that stir our hearts, this universal language has an undeniable power over humanity. It moves us – physically, emotionally and psychologically as it increases blood flow to areas of the brain that generate and control emotions. It can uplift us, calm us, and even help us focus. But can you learn a language through music? Do music and language really go hand in hand?
Probably the most interesting theory on how music helps our brain is the Mozart effect. This theory suggests that the music of Mozart “makes you smarter”. There are probably hundreds of Youtube playlists with Mozart’s music for “brain power”. However, it seems that the results of the original study were highly exaggerated. Nonetheless, as I write these lines, I listen to classical music and I can confirm it helps me concentrate.
As we delve into this fascinating exploration, let’s hit ‘play’ on our favorite tune and find out whether learning a language through music actually works.
Music and language go together like Beyoncé and Jay-Z
Whether you’re tuning into music to concentrate better while learning a new language (with Mondly), or you’re enjoying songs in the language you’re trying to learn, keep it up! It will only accelerate the process.
Movies, books and music are all fun ways to improve your understanding of a new language. However, if you’re just starting, music is your best choice as it doesn’t feel as overwhelming as reading a book, for example. You just go with the flow.
Music and language go together like Beyoncé and Jay-Z for many reasons:
- Better pronunciation and accent: Songs in a foreign language can significantly improve your pronunciation because they introduce you to the native rhythm, speed, and intonation of the language. As you sing along or simply listen, you mimic the pronunciation, making your spoken language sound more natural.
- Enhanced memory: It’s always easier to remember new phrases and words if you put them on some catchy music. The songs act as a mnemonic device, making the words easier to recall. What’s a mnemonic device? Just that: a memory technique that can help increase your ability to recall and retain information.
- Improved vocabulary: Songs are filled with everyday vocabulary, idioms, and expressions. By listening to music, you’re exposed to the most commonly used words in context, which helps you understand what they mean and how to use them.
- Better understanding of grammar and structure: Through song lyrics, you can get exposed to many different grammar structures. This way, you can get a feel for how sentences are constructed in a particular language.
- Increased cultural understanding: By listening to the right music, you can get valuable insights into a country’s culture, history and values.
Scientifically proven: learning a language through music works!
Okay, learning a language through music works, but is it scientifically proven? The answer is yes. Over the years, there have been multiple studies regarding music’s positive impact on language acquisition. Needless to say, all of them had encouraging results for all those wanting to ease the process of learning a new language.
In a compelling study carried out at Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, the strategic use of song and music was found to boost the motivation of English language learners significantly. The study participants, most of whom had only a rudimentary understanding of English, remarkably demonstrated their ability to dissect contemporary music lyrics as if they were poetry, all thanks to the engaging medium of music.
Another study published in the journal Memory & Cognition demonstrates that melodies can help in learning and recalling new phrases in a foreign language. This is because music and language share neural pathways in the brain, particularly in areas responsible for auditory processing and memory. The process of attaching words to a rhythmic pattern or melody helps reinforce memory retention of those words.
Furthermore, a study in the journal Brain Sciences showed that exposure to music at a young age can improve linguistic abilities, emphasizing the connection between music and language development. The rhythm and pitch variations in music mirror the modulation and stress patterns in language, helping learners understand and mimic these patterns.
The list of studies can continue – all showing the same promising results. As you can see, there’s a firm scientific basis for the notion that learning a language through music can be beneficial.
Music for language learning: good study songs and more
If you’re ready to learn Spanish, Italian, French or any other language using music, you need some tips before you get started. Listening to music in Spanish is one search away, but there are o couple of things you should remember.
Probably the most important aspect of learning a language through music is the songs you choose. Here are the types of songs that are most suitable for learning new words and phrases in a new language:
- Simple and repetitive songs: Ideal for language learners, songs with simple and recurring lyrics can reinforce basic vocabulary and grammar.
- Children’s songs: Given their simplicity and clarity, children’s songs are great for language learners who are just starting out.
- Pop songs: Pop songs are a perfect choice for language learners, as they are fun and have very catchy and have easy-to-remember lyrics.
- Folk songs: Folk songs, rich with storytelling and cultural references, can deepen learners’ understanding of the language and its culture.
- Songs with clear pronunciation: Songs with distinct and clear pronunciation can aid learners aiming to improve their own pronunciation and accent.
- Songs with translated lyrics: For those keen to grasp the meaning of the lyrics and learn new words and phrases, songs with translated lyrics can be beneficial.
Learning a new language with songs: tips and tricks
Once you have chosen your favorite songs in the language you’re trying to learn, the idea is to have fun and listen carefully. We’re all vibin’ to Shakira’s new revenge Spanish song for Pique, but do we understand what she’s saying? If you’re listening to music in Spanish in an effort to learn the language, make sure you’re doing it right. Here are a few tips and tricks you should keep in mind:
- Select suitable songs: Choose songs that match your language level. If you’re a beginner, choose songs with simple vocabulary and clear pronunciation. Advanced learners can pick songs with more intricate language and quicker lyrics.
- Tune in to the song: Listen to the song a few times without trying to understand every word. Concentrate on the melody, rhythm, and mood of the song – enjoy it. Notice any recurring phrases or sequences.
- Search for the lyrics: Find the lyrics of the song in the original language and in your native language. Read through the lyrics and try to understand the meaning of each phrase.
- Learn the vocabulary: Use a dictionary to clarify any unknown words and compile a list of new vocabulary. Practice saying the words out loud and try to memorize their meanings.
- Sing along: While listening to the song again, attempt to sing along. Pay attention to your pronunciation and try to match the rhythm and intonation of the singer.
- Practice pronunciation: If you’re brave enough (some of us aren’t), record yourself singing the song and listen to it. Identify any areas where you need to improve your pronunciation and practice only those sections.
- Analyze the grammar: Look for examples of grammar structures in the song, such as verb tenses, prepositions, and conjunctions. Try to identify their contextual use.
- Use the song to practice speaking: Use the song lyrics as conversation starters with a language partner or tutor. You can also use the song as a prompt for writing exercises, such as writing a short story or describing a scene.
Once you’ve discovered a band or artist that you like, try to learn as much as possible about them. Aim to understand their origins and their inspirations, as this can enrich your comprehension of the cultural backdrop of their music.
The bottom line is this: learning a language through music is possible. Especially if you’re only starting to learn the language and can’t live without Spotify. All you have to do is enjoy the process and learn what you can from it. Now let’s recap a few things.
How to learn a language by listening to music?
One way to learn a language through music is to listen to songs in the target language and try to follow along with the lyrics. You can also look up the lyrics and translations online to better understand the meaning of the words. Another way is to just listen to concentration music while studying the language.
How to learn a language by studying music lyrics?
Studying music lyrics involves analyzing the structure and meaning of the lyrics and using that knowledge to improve your language skills. This can include learning new vocabulary, grammar rules, and pronunciation.
How does listening to music help you learn a language?
Listening to music helps you learn a language by exposing you to native speakers and commonly used words, improving your listening skills, and providing you with a fun and engaging way to practice your language skills.
Who said “to learn music is to learn a whole new language”?
This quote is often attributed to Plato.
How to learn a language from music?
To learn a language from music, you can try listening to songs in the target language and trying to understand or study the lyrics. You can also use the lyrics to learn new vocabulary and grammar rules.
Sing your way to a new language
Drop the grammar book and pick up Mondly! It’s time to have fun learning languages.
Instead of tiring yourself for hours with inch-thick textbooks, slip a 10-minute Mondly lesson into your routine and make learning a breeze. You will learn languages naturally using:
- practical topics;
- hands-on, interactive language lessons;
- intelligent suggestions and instant feedback on pronunciation;
- crystal-clear audios of fluent speakers;
- real-life conversations and so much more.
Start using Mondly for free on your computer or download the app and learn languages anytime, anywhere.