Singing in a Foreign Language Helps You Learn Better Than Just Speaking It
There’s a new study by the University of Edinburgh Reid School of
Music that shows singing in a foreign language is a better way
to learn it than simply repeating phrases. One test even showed that
people who sang foreign phrases performed twice as well as their non-singing
counterparts. Everyone sing along with me now: Zut alors!
The study was done by having three groups of twenty adults take part in five
tests in which they repeated short Hungarian phrases. The subjects either first
learned the phrases through simple spoken repetition or through singing, and on
four out of the five tests, the singing groups performed better.
Karen M. Ludke led the study as part of her research for a PhD in Music in
Human and Social Development at the university. Ludke said:
This study provides the first experimental evidence that a listen-and-repeat
singing method can support foreign language learning, and 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
The study used Hungarian as a test language because it’s not familiar to most
English speakers, but the study supports the idea that singing in any language
could help you better learn it. Further evidence of that concept is that I’ve
had this song from my “French 1″ class stuck in my head since 1997.