It would be true to say that for some language learners music is probably one of the main reasons why they decided to learn foreign languages in the first place. The main question is, does learn a language through music effective? Is it the best way to master a foreign language? Would you be fluent by just using music?
Learning new languages means adding more foreign words to your brain and vocabulary. There are many ways to do so. The easiest of all is through music, obviously.
We listen to it pretty much every single day. These might sound familiar to you because that’s probably what most of you have done (I know I did).
Here are the steps
- You listen to a foreign song and you like what you hear.
- You search for another song (same language) with a different genre that suits your taste and you fall in love with it.
- You keep listening to it and the next thing you know you’ve memorized the lyrics and decided to figure out what the song is about.
By now, you know certain words and when you happen to watch TV series and/or movies with that particular language you already know what some of it means. This is indirectly by no means, the easiest way to learn a new language without having to pay attention to the grammar and focus solely on the accent and pronunciation.
The best thing about music is it tells you a story. Have you ever heard people saying “I can totally relate to this song”? I bet you did. This is a good thing because when you talk with your foreign exchange partners they are more likely to want to know more about you and you can easily tell them the story of your life using music.
Passive Listening Vs Active Listening
You’re not going to be able to achieve that while you’re doing something else at the same time. You should make it the centre of your attention rather than making it background music.
You have to listen, hear and focus at the same time. This way you’ll be able to absorb it. Think of it as doing IELTS or TOEFL tests. Would you be able to pass the test while doing something else?
I based my words on a study carried out by researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music. Music and singing can definitely help one to improve their speaking of a foreign language.
“Each language has its own musicality” – Susana Zaraysky
Surely most of you have wondered why it’s so easy remembering songs but struggle when it comes to remembering texts from the textbooks/ syllabus so you can pass the tests and/or exams with flying colors.
I know it has to do with our brains, the auditory cortex to be exact. What’s your perspective on it?
When I was a kid I remembered watching a cartoon (I’m not sure what it was about). They were singing the names of the prophets and after watching it several times I was able to recall all the 25 names. This had helped me whenever there were questions related to that area and I still remember it to this day.
Now that we know the power of music, we can use it to learn new languages. However, can we learn a language with just any song? Absolutely not.
What are the criteria to look for in a song?
For beginners, you may want to start with a moderate song. Meaning, don’t start with hip-hop, techno, or rap genres kind of songs. If you’re a fan of these genres and think can handle it, go for it.
Remember, you’re just starting so, choose a song that is a slow genre like pop, R&B, ballad, and so on. These types of songs usually have a clear pronunciation than the first genre which is kind of hectic as in you can hardly catch your breath (if you know what I mean).
Pay attention to the way they pronounce the word and you’ll find yourself getting the hang of the accent in no time.
Choosing one that has quite simple lyrics, easy to comprehend and follow is ideal. Personally, I’d stay away from songs containing profanity lyrics as I’m not a fan of those.
We all do have a preference when it comes to songs. Some like a fast tempo, opera, ballad, pop, rock, country, etc. When choosing a song, find one that’s your cup tea. One that will not make you feel sleepy and bored.
All of the above criteria are for the beginner’s level. Once you succeed try going for a different genre.
So back to the question, will you be able to speak fluently by just using music? No. One thing you should set in mind is that while learning through music is a great and faster way to learn a new language you shouldn’t and can’t expect to speak fluently by just using that.
Eventually, you still have to learn the proper grammar. This method is only suitable for people who want to learn basic words, sentences, or phrases.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comment below.