How did you learn your mother tongue? You may respond, “I didn’t have to”, as acquiring language as a child felt natural and easy, especially when compared to learning another language formally in school or in another setting. When presented with a textbook full of complex grammar structures and word lists, language learning did not seem quite as simple, did it? That is because language learning is most effective when it is experiential, immersive and engaging!
This is especially true for young learners, who can benefit from learning a second language much in the same way that they learn their first. We recommend watching tv/ movies, playing games, and listening to music all in the target language. Today, we will focus on learning language through music, and discuss both the known, and lesser known benefits of this method.
First and foremost, there is nothing better than listening to music and singing your heart out! Music connects us to each other, it makes us want to dance, move and rejoice! Music is known to greatly enhance your mood, therefore learning through music is an enjoyable experience!
Each new song is an opportunity to learn a new story, a new way of thinking and of course, new words! The repetition of words to a catchy tune and rhythm aids memory and recall, ensuring that you remember them! The song also contextualises new words, helping learners to understand their appropriate usage.
What is more, hearing words in a song will help the listener to get a better understanding of pronunciation. Singing along will then allow them to practise! Another great method is using tongue twisters!
Just as you can learn new words, music introduces you to sentence patterns and grammar constructs in a passive, easy way. As mentioned above, grammar often get’s a bad reputation amongst language learners, but this doesn’t have to be the case! Songs expose the listener to tenses, word order, conjugations and more, in a way that is digestible to the learner.
It is easy to adapt songs to even the youngest of learners, or to pick more challenging songs for older children. Therefore, music is a flexible teaching method, which can be used during any lesson, no matter how long. Songs can be used for five minutes or an hour, depending on the lesson plan, and found easily on the internet. They can even be used during remote lessons!
Finally, what we believe to be the biggest advantage of learning language through music, which is typically overlooked, is that music introduces you to new cultures by revealing their history, traditions and customs! Moreover, songs can often be used to instil values and morals into the listener. This is especially useful when teaching younger children about good behaviour, the environment and other important life lessons.
Overall, we hope that we provided some insight into the advantages of learning language through music, and that you will consider adopting songs into your own language learning. We have a Mandarin-English songbook, that you can download as a resource here: