Looking to Learn a Foreign Language? Don’t Simply Recite, Sing
You’ve watched countless tutorials on YouTube and spent sleepless nights watching subbed movies but to no avail. You can still barely stammer through the items on a foreign-sounding restaurant’s menu.
While movies with voiceovers offer a peek into the culture of the country you’re visiting, experts say if you wish to get to grips with a particular language, try singing while learning. A study conducted at the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music revealed that singing foreign words or short phrases can help adults become twice as good at speaking the language later.
Led by Dr. Katie Overy, the researchers taught 60 adults foreign phrases using recordings of words. As the researchers wanted to use a language that participants were unlikely to have encountered before, they chose to present them with Hungarian words.
The researchers played the tapes to participants, instructing one group to say the words back like a teach yourself tape. On the other hand, they told the other group to either sing the words or say them rhythmically.
After listening for 15 minutes, the researchers gave the respondents tests to see how well they fared at learning the words. The results revealed that those who listened to short phrases and sang them back performed better than those who simply spoke the words.
The Link Between Music and Memory
Music can help trigger memory recall. Most people remember certain phrases or words from a song they heard earlier. Some language teachers use music to teach their young students, while the students use it to enhance their memory when preparing for an exam.
The researchers concluded that a listen-and-sing method could help verbatim memory for phrases in a spoken language. The researchers did not delve into whether certain melodies provide an additional cue to exercise the mind, and while they admit that future research can fortify the ideas they have brought forth, they suggest taking advantage of the strong links between memory and music when trying to learn a foreign language.