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Music Helps Learn New Languages


It’s no secret that songs can help students memorize information – starting as early as the A, B, C’s song, set to a Mozart melody that is also used for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.  The educational cartoon “Veggie Tales” is entirely dedicated to teaching through music, with songs written for information as complicated as the entire Bill of Rights text.  But many may not be aware that music is a great way to learn new languages.  According to author Susanna Zaraysky, who speaks 7 languages and wrote the book “Language is Music”, listening to music with lyrics written in the language you would like to learn is a powerful tool in becoming multilingual.  The technique mimics the way a baby learns their native language, listening to the people around them speak during their first years of life before starting to use the language themselves.

“You do have to learn grammar eventually,” says Zaraysky in her Q&A on, “But music is absolutely key in learning languages. I speak seven languages and listening to lyrical music in these languages was fundamental to my being able to copy the melody of these languages and remember pronunciation and vocabulary.”

This is something that can also be incorporated into private voice lessons.  Voice students who would like to work on pronouncing words in another language can get great practice out of singing songs in that language.   There’s a similar benefit for students speaking English as a second language: students from other countries who would like to learn an “American Standard” dialect can use English language voice pieces to practice that accent.  In general, voice lessons teach students to have more control over their voice – which of course means that they can sing more prettily, but also that they can speak more clearly, and manipulate their speaking voice more easily, for language learning.

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