Learning a New Language? Sing Along!

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Are you looking for a way to get an edge on your foreign language studies? New research from the University of Edinburg suggests that, as with many of life’s challenges, music is the answer.

In the study, groups of test subjects were introduced to a selection of words and short phrases in Hungarian, which was chosen because it is so different from English and from Romance languages like French and Spanish. Some groups  simply repeated the phrases back, some repeated them back “rhythmically” without singing (imagine a bunch of Scottish students “rapping” in Hungarian!) while others sang them. Later, they were tested on their knowledge of the phrases. The group that sang knocked the other groups out of the water on four out of five of the tests.

As University of South Carolina psychology Professor Fernanda Ferreira, one of the study’s authors, told UPI, “It’s an important finding. Learning a language can be difficult, and yet with increasing internationalization and globalization, it is becoming more and more important for people to be able to communicate in more than one language.

Co-author Karen M. Ludke, Ph.D explained the study’s implications to PsychCentral.com :

“This study provides the first experimental evidence that a listen-and-repeat singing method can support foreign language learning. [It] opens the door for future research in this area. One question is whether melody could provide an extra cue to jog people’s memory, helping them recall foreign words and phrases more easily.”

Of course, there’s no need for you to wait. In this case, it’s easy enough to become an experiment of one. Just put the phrases you’re trying to learn to the rhythm of a catchy song.

Of course, listening to foreign language songs may be helpful as well. Looking for some tunes in your language of choice? A couple of resources are listed below, and feel free to add your favorite foreign language songs in the comments:

Different Tongues: 10 Foreign Language Songs That Rule the World
Speaking in Tongues: Top 10 Foreign Language Songs