It’s a well-known fact that music can be an effective tool for learning a foreignlanguage. Like original-version films, song lyrics are a good source ofvocabulary and expressions that you can memorize—and have fun doing so.Furthermore, listening to or humming foreign songs helps you improve yourpronunciation。
Hereare 5 steps to optimizing your learning with music and enjoying yourself at thesame time.
1. Choose a songthat you like
Youdon’thave to go out of your way to find music to listen to. Instead, you shouldstart with songs that you already listen to. Then, look up the lyrics to thesongs you like。
Youcould listen to your favourite foreign-language song dozens of times per daywithout actually paying attention to the content or the meaning of the lyrics.I think by now you’re aware that repetition is one of the most importantfactors to learning a foreign language。
2. Try to sing orhum the song without looking
Ifyou want to improve your pronunciation, you should sing the song—trying yourbest to pronounce the words properly—without reading the lyrics. In fact, assoon as you try to sing the song by reading the lyrics, you’ll pick back upyour bad pronunciation habits. It’s O.K. if you don’tunderstand the meaning of what you’re singing: The point of thisstep is to pronounce the words well。
Auser pointed out to me in a comment that an extra step could be to try to writedown the lyrics while you’re listening to the song. This is a great exerciseand should fit into this process as Step 2B! (However, this step likelyrequires you to have reached an intermediate level of language。
3. Look up thelyrics
Next,you can look up the lyrics on the Internet.
Ifyou use iTunes, you should install a software program that scans your musiclibrary and automatically adds the lyrics to your MP3 files. If you have a PC,I recommend the software program called LyricsFetcher; if you have a Mac, Irecommend Get Lyrical. These programs make it possible for you to see the songlyrics directly on your phone or iPod as you’re listening to the music。
Thisway, even when you’re out and about, you can listen to your favourite music andread the lyrics at the same time!
4. Listen to thesong while reading the lyrics
Whenyou actually listen to the music with the lyrics, you’llbe surprised at how many words and phrases you already knew, but just hadn’trealized until now. (It’s not always easy to understand thelyrics of a foreign-language song on your own。
Focuson the phrases that you find most interesting, or perhaps just the refrain.Even if you only know the refrains of your favourite songs, that’s enough foryou to learn hundreds of foreign-language words and phrases. Here are someexamples:
Anyways,everyone has their own tastes—the point is to choose songs you like!
5. Listen to thesong again and sing along
Nowthat you know the words and have grasped the general meaning of the song, youcan continue to listen to the song while singing along. Once you’re fixed onyour favourite song, you’ll certainly want to sing it while driving or taking ashower, for example. (Personally, these are the only places where I do mycatastrophic performances :-)) Before you know it, you’ll have memorized thesong!
Repetitionis one of the fundamental pillars of memorization. If you follow these 5 steps,I can guarantee that you’ll significantly improve. Learning a language withmusic is fun and takes minimal effort. It’s a nice complement to MosaLingua’sspaced repetition system。
Onetip I have for language learners is to alternate between “seriouslearning”(e.g. the MosaLingua application or grammar lessons) and fun activities (music,films, etc。).This will help you continue practising without losing your attention orconcentration or getting tired. You may be really surprised at your results!