Just recently I started to learn some Islamic prayers in Arabic. I can’t read Arabic so I downloaded the Arabic words in English script. That didn’t make it any easier because I still needed to hear it. Fortunately I was able to also download the voice over of these words. That was much better, but still difficult. Finally I found a person online actually almost singing the verses…..bingo! That really made it easy for me. Now I can hum those songs and the words just come to me…perfect!
And this is the same for English as it has its own lyrical element that if you have an ear for music, chances are you will be able to pick it up easier through music.
So why are songs such an effective learning tool for English?
- Every word has a sound. When we say a word it makes a sound. Every word or words is a note or group of notes, and when we hear these notes they connect with our unconscious and tell us what it means.
- Songs contain a lot of repetition. When we listen to music often we pick up the chorus first as it is always repeated. Repetition is key to learning a language.
- Spoken English has a musical fluency. By listening to songs we are inclined to what to sing along with them, this allows you to get in touch with the musical tone and fluency of the language.
- Songs often have a message. When we listen to music often we listen to the words to find out what they are singing about. This helps to connect with us on an emotional level, and if learning can be experiential, it is far more effective.
- We can listen to music all day. Many people have their radio on or CD player constantly playing. Though we are not necessarily listening to each and every sound track, it is affecting us on a subliminal level. This makes learning easier when you do come down to listening to the words on the track and wondering what is it that this guy is singing about.
- Music is often a reflection of a culture. So often we associate certain kinds of music with certain kinds of cultural groups. The words will tell you a lot about what the people in this culture are interested in. For example, pop songs can often be about relationships, and gangster rap may be more about attitude to social issues. But all in all it does tell you about how people this these different parts of the ‘English’ culture speak.
So what do you think? Are there any songs that you remember that have helped you or others learn a language?