Music is a powerful communication tool in these days of constant cross-cultural contact via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, forums and so on. If you are not sure you have expressed your opinion clearly enough through your words, posting a link to a song can make a huge difference with regards to how people understand you.
But does music actually enhance your foreign language abilities? And if it does, how does it happen?
The most boring part in learning a new language is having to study meaningless sequences of words over and over again until you know them by heart; repeating grammar rules time and time again until you can quote them word for word. But that only works if you are having an exam; it doesn’t engage your emotions in any way, it doesn’t give you any relating context to leave a lasting imprint on your memory. But music does… It puts everything into context, it makes you feel happy or sad, it kind of seamlessly finds its way into your memory and stays there pretty much forever.
Singing along has an amazing positive effect on pronunciation. Let’s take for example French, where the way words are written often has little to do with the way they are pronounced. If you listen to a French song and have the lyrics in front of you, you can actually “see” the proper pronunciation, which you can later implement in your conversations. Whenever you are trying to sing along with your favourite singer, you are actually absorbing their accent.
Songs really help in developing comprehension skills. Try making out the words of a song, it really enhances your listening ability; and then, if there are any that are unknown to you, don’t go immediately to the dictionary, try understanding the context, the words around the new one, you’ll probably get it right.
Music is a powerful mnemonic tool, i.e. makes remembering easier and faster. If your language teacher creates a song for, let’s say, verb tenses or conjunctions, you are far more likely to remember them, than if you were reading them in a textbook and making yourself remember them.
Listening to contemporary music in the language you are learning helps you understand better how people are communicating today. Textbooks usually contain zero, or very few, modern phrases and expressions; they are more focused on teaching you how the language works and not how people use it. However, listening to a popular hit and reading the lyrics can teach you a little slang, useful sentence structures, contemporary idioms – things which will be extremely valuable if you find yourself in a situation where you have to communicate with someone in that language.
It’s no wonder that as early as kindergarten, children are learning cheerful songs in foreign languages and that high school language classes often involve song exercises (for example – fill in the blanks in the lyrics while listening to the song). Songs make things so much easier to remember and understand. They not only teach the language, they tell of the ways of the people in that culture, they teach valuable lessons on how to properly interact with those people.
Music is a precious instrument in learning a language and no one should neglect its endless helping power!
About Guest Author: Rita Rova is a music lover and keen writer. She writes about the power of music and how you can save money on music through discount site – Love My Vouchers.