Music is found anywhere, everywhere. I’ve always believed that there was a connection between music and language. When I first began studying Spanish I would close my eyes and just listen to my language tapes, I didn’t understand hardly anything, yet I noticed a rhythm, the beat of the language. Now experts are saying there indeed is a connection.
Language is said to be alive, this means that it is constantly changing, evolving into a new language. Clue, for example, used to mean a ball of yarn, and now it refers to a key piece of evidence or how about the word nice, meaning at one time to be foolish, simple. My how that word has changed! Music, like a language, is also constantly reshaping and remolding itself, both a reflection of our culture. Language is not only grammar charts and vocabulary lists! It can be said that language and music are akin to each other, having rhythm, tone, melody, pitch, volume and pauses.
It is important when studying languages to make them part of our life. One way this can be done is by listening to music. Find a radio station, YouTube or a CD to listen to in the target language. Select music in the target language that you enjoy, preferably a song that tells a story. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the lyrics. You may even start singing along without knowing what you are singing.
Listening to music can be done passively or actively. Turn on the music while driving, doing chores, cooking, gardening, etc. By passively listening you are exposing yourself to the rhythms of the language, reinforcing the vocabulary and sentence structure you already know, and it exposes you to new vocabulary, and not to mention the culture. Listening to music engages more of your brain than language alone and therefore, you are more able to remember new words. Have you ever had a song stuck in your mind? As you think about the song more and more, the lyrics and the music become clearer and clearer until, next thing you know, you are singing the song, you may not understand it, but at least, you’ve memorized it. Memorizing the song will transfer to better pronunciation and using learned phrases and words in everyday conversation.
Actively listening can be even more productive than passively listening to music. Start by writing the lyrics down while you listen. You may have to stop and rewind the music many times to catch every word, but that is ok. There will be some difficult words or phrases to write down as some will be slang or idioms, but do your best. Once you are done, compare your lyrics to the original song. How did you do? The more you do this exercise the better your version will be. After you have compared the two, look up words you don’t know in the dictionary. The next time you do this, you should be able to distinguish those new words.
To help reinforce new vocabulary from the song, make flashcards, you can even make them online with the help of quizlet.com or other online flashcard makers.
Music helps us memorize words, phrases, and even entire songs. It even helps us remember things after time has passed by for a while. The best part of using music to learn a foreign language is it is fun! It allows you to relax and simply have a good time! So turn up the music and learn a foreign language!