How music tunes you to language learning

 

If your kids want to listen to their favourite songs and refuse to do their homework, don’t rush into getting angry and punishing them.

A new study has shown that music and foreign languages aren’t mutually exclusive.

In fact, there are a lot of researches that have proved that music has a huge impact on the brain. Benefits of playing a musical instrument and healing power of music therapy are those things that have drawn my attention to this particular research.

The new study found a strong positive link between musical training and language performance. Those who listen to music on a regular basis increase their ability to perceive different sounds, distinguish subtle differences in pitch and rhythm, and improve their language perception as well.

I can tell you my own personal experience. As an infant, I used to fall asleep listening to Jean Michel Jarre’s songs (that were popular at the time in Russia) in my father’s arms. Then, the tracklist of my childhood was completed with Enigma songs. Somehow, I see a correlation between those experiences and the fact that our English teacher has pointed at me as an example of how one should speak English using correct intonation and pitch level. That’s why I love blogging. What a wonderful opportunity to brag about your academic “achievements” while reporting the news!

In the future, scientists hope to “further customize the study to run different variations of the training to see if [they] can design musical exercises that help tune people’s ears specifically to learn certain languages.”

Now a new era is coming and we know that. The era of teaching across disciplines. Educators are trying to mix arts and STEM together to enhance the teaching process and raise students’ achievements. So, why don’t we meld music and language learning?

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53 thoughts on “How music tunes you to language learning

  1. I wish my kids were more interested in learning an instrument, but they do listen to music all the time. What I miss in this generation is having music on for everyone to hear – now it’s earbuds all the way. I also think listening to music helps your mind. I used to love playing (on the piano) and listening to Bach fugues. They are a little boring, in a way, but I loved how one hand would do one thing and another was on its own path!

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are two ways of learning a language: active (through speaking and writing) and passive (through listening and reading). Similarly, playing an instrument is the active learning, while listening to music is a passive one. One more similarity 🙂 I completely agree, music performances are real miracles and those musicians are magicians.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Loro Translations and commented:
    This is a blog that one of my followers wrote about on the same topic I just recently covered. For me, this article is just further proof that there exists a connection between language and music!

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  3. Yes, Music always helps us in healing from pain and shifts us into a new world. And it is interesting to know that even it can help learning languages. I have an example that when I was a kid I sang a song in a language which I didn’t know, just because I was addicted to listening that song. In that way languages can be learnt in the form of music if the song can also convey the meaning of the words. Interesting post Marta. Loved it. Hope scientists do it soon. Have a great weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. On the subject of learning languages, I was told the other evening that Russians have a problem understanding English text if it is centrally aligned. Is this true?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think that text alignment can effect the information processing 🙂 We just have different publishing and documentation standards here. Though I would say that you can believe any things that start with “Russians have a problem…” =)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, it did come from a Russian. A friend created some marketing templates for a Russian client but they said it made no sense. When they aligned the text to the left (with no further changes), the client said it was perfect and later mentioned that centrally aligned text causes it to be harder to decipher!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, my favorite subject from my favorite blogger! I have long heard and believed the arts, to include music, is the foundation of our humanity and learning. I pursued the arts with the gusto of a hound dog on a ham bone. But many tell me science and technology have no use for the arts, music, or me. I’m not so sure it’s true. I watch the naysayers put on their headphones and jam to their favorite music while knocking out another 1000 lines of programming code and nothing is more fun than splitting atoms to the sound of classical music. The creative mind that excels in the arts is the same mind that can see beyond the boundaries of imagined constraints and explore solutions to problems that put us in space, under the ocean, and into the cells of living things where we unlock the secrets of life and the connection to our universe one brush stroke, one pen stroke, one piano note at a time. Play on, Marta. I’m listening. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m sure this is true. My kids grew up in a number of different countries and I found music tapes in the local language to be a huge help.Music also provided the key for one of my grand kids (he’s autistic) to learn to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. One, I can’t begin to tell you how many days I spent in my unfocused youth listening to Jean Michel Jarre. He was/is a revelation, and this speaks directly to your point: regardless of past experiences, listening to tonal variations in music is similar to tonal variations in language. It’s a fundamental engagement of the mind and substance…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for spreading information about the benefits of music on learning. As a musician, songwriter, and composer, and someone who works in education, I appreciate the connection between the two. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I personally would put on there favorite music and dance away….release the pressure and anxiety of the day and then get back to life after…home work, dinner, laundry…I always felt it important for my kids to take a breath after school….just like I would have to after work….great post…kat

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I also used to listen to Jean Michel Jarre, especially with headphones on as some of his music went from one ear to the other as if right through my brain. Loved it. I so agree with you that music is important, for learning indeed, but also for life itself. It helps us find the rhythm of our own journeys through this world. Thank you for visiting Tovarysh and for your lovely blog….Happy birthday blog!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! It goes from one ear to the other 🙂 I love this effect too! Thank you for your lovely comment. When I read such things, I realize my readers and I move in the same rhythm and it always encourages me to go on.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I can’t survive without music. Some songs are very healing and I like to write songs to express myself when feeling blue, stressed or sad and I like writing songs for my friends. They like that. I find my inspiration from listening to other artists music and creating my own with influence from them. I should write a song for you sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What an interesting post!
    I started playing (or learning to play) piano when I was 4 and my mom send me to German classes with 6. It was fun for a while, but at some point it was quite hard. While I was 9 as school we started with English lessons. In the following years I was better in the one or in the other language till I went to Germany and almost forgot English… Well, a few years later I came to London and now my English is fine, I think.
    I am not sure, if playing piano helped me for the languages or for math (I went to math school, but that was not the best idea), but I get the impression that it helps me to think on a strange “straight path” and sometimes my brain is making connects, quite unusual but interesting. At the math school I had problems with algebra, but geometry was fun, and the teachers said that it’s related to the music.
    Apparently playing an instrument helps against Alzheimer, because it supports the synapse formation and for sure it helps to open up your mind for every kind of music – this is my experience.
    (I am bulgarian, by the way, and in Bulgaria is usuall to put the children in every language class as soon as possible)

    Liked by 1 person

    • At school I had a lot of problems with algebra too and I loved geometry! And I’m keen on music. So I can totally relate to this 🙌 Thank you so much for sharing your story. To me, it’s a great insight! ❤

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  13. Great post! I’m a Linguist and I’ve been a language teacher off and on for several years. People underestimate how much you can learn from music and films. In fact I know people that ONLY used music and film to learn a language. Music really helps with learning common vocabulary and slang, intonation like you said, and helps with the coordination of speaking at different speeds. It’s really great! Poka!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Rob! When it comes to languages, I’m a strong believer that the more you listen to it the better. Our ears are trained to hear even the most subtle differences in speech. If all the blogs were audio blogs, I would speak English a lot better 🙂

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  14. Hi Marta,
    Great article! In fact, I’ve read a few of your posts and love your style of writing. You have a great command of the English language in written form, maybe even better than I do and it’s the only language I know.
    On relation to this post, did you know that cooking and music go together very nicely?
    Overall though, just listening to music is very important. It’s part of life and is a very powerful form of communication and has power to heal, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Eric,
      thank you for your kind words. It’s really nice to hear that you like my writing style, particularly because it’s been a while since my last post. I have another creative outlet right now and hopefully it will allow me to write even more in the future.
      As for music and English, you’re so right. I have a confession to make. I built up my courage and deleted all my music on my phone to download as many English podcasts as I could. I forced myself to listen to native English speech any time I have the opportunity to put on my headphones. And you know I started to ‘feel’ English better. Each language has its own music and ‘English’ music is so different from Russian language. I almost feel like English language rhythm and pitch are cursing through my veins filling me with its unique melody.
      It’s a lot easier to learn a second language when you are a music lover. The fact makes the experience really pleasurable. I’m going to study this topic further because I’m fascinated by the incredible effect that both music and language learning have on our brains.
      Once again thank you a lot for your thoughtful comment.

      Like

      • Hi Marta,
        Thank you for replying to me too.
        You are welcome and thank you so much for deciding to follow my humble blog.

        So what are you doing now creatively?

        You are so right about each language having its own music. Music is a deep form of communication. In fact, if learning memory serves, music is the oldest form of communication. I listen to music from all over the world and even if sung in English the rhythm structures and pitches and such are different from one another even though on the surface they may sound very similar.
        Although I must confess that as a music lover myself, I tried to learn another language and did not find it that much easier to do, but in spite of the failure what you say has truth to it. I did not realize it at the time, but being immersed in music and such helps one pick up on the different rhythms of the pronunciations and such.

        I like what you said about how you “started to ‘feel’ English better. Music communicates by and with feeling. In fact, it is how we engage and connect with music
        .
        Be sure to look at my articles about this stuff when you get a chance, hopefully they will be of use to you. Also visit album reviews of your choice, so you can hear some “English music”. I try to include some samples for each one I do. There is plenty more I’ll be posting as I go too.

        Please also feel free to email me with any questions or clarifications or just to stay in touch or what have you. You’ll find my email address at the bottom of my front page (probably on any page if I understand how it all works on wordpress).

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m always very glad to find a person who shares the same ideas or just loves what I love. It’s some sort of connection that you feel even if it seems like the only connection between you and them is the internet. And it’s really nice to talk to you.
        The thing is I can’t do anything else while listening to Russian songs. When I hear their lyrics, I involuntarily start thinking about their words and what a songwriter wanted to say. However, it’s not the case with English although I understand songs in English too. They just don’t infiltrate my feelings on a deep level as my native language does. So, I think your recommendations will come in handy.
        What’s your favorite ‘language music’? I love Spanish and Italian language melody. If I had a chance, I would listen to them all day long. I don’t know them well but I hope I will learn these languages someday.

        Like

      • Hi Marta,
        I’m the same way, when I listen to music, I don’t do anything else because I like to absorb it in a sense and think about what the artist is saying or let the music take me where it wants to go. It’s kind of both at the same time.
        It makes perfect sense that music (that contains lyrics) in your native language would infiltrate you on a deeper level, it’s the same with all of us.
        If I put aside my native language for a moment, of course, I would have to say that my favorite “language music” is Farsi. I don’t understand a single word, but I can listen for a long time and enjoy. Sung by the well-heeled voice, it is quite beautiful. In second place for me, would have to be Italian as well.
        We should email if you like, that way we aren’t filling up your blog space with our chatting. Like I said, you will find my email at the bottom right side of my landing page on my blog. If you don’t or can’t that’s ok too, just thinking efficiently.
        I’m hoping to also learn from you as well. We all learn from each other.

        Liked by 1 person

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