Picture this: You, bored out of your mind trying to “study” your language, trying desperately to memorize vocabulary…. Okay, that may not be that hard to visualize, because it probably has happened to you before. Let’s picture a much more fun way of learning a foreign language that can become your new reality.
Don’t feel like you are alone in feeling like you have wasted so much time “studying” because it has happened to us all before. The purpose of this article is to help eradicate that feeling, because a major part of the Live Fluently philosophy is to use the language doing things that are fun and useful to you, things that you would already do in your own native language.
What Is One Thing That You Can Start Doing Today (Right Now Even) To Instantly Make Your Language Learning Experience More Fun And Efficient At The Same Time?
…. Use music to help you learn your language.
There has been tons of research done on the topic of music and how it helps to improve memory, but not only does it help you to remember more words, you also get to learn how the language is actually used in day to day life. The way that you hear lyrics being used in songs is a much more accurate representation of how natives use the language than you may study in a textbook.
I have personally used music to help with my Spanish learning for a long time; I absolutely love Reggaeton, Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, and Dembow; however, now I am using them as language learning tools much more than I ever have before because I want to really test out the validity of all of the research that I have done on this subject.
An example of research from an article entitled “A Quick Guide To Learning Spanish Through Music” from FluentU states that:
“Songs get stuck in our heads because of our brains. Music activates the auditory cortex part of our brains, and when we do not know the entire song our brains fill in the missing gaps in the rhythm and repeat it over and over. Scientists call this phenomenon a cognitive itch or a brain itch, and by repeating a tune in your head you are scratching the itch.”
This is great for us as language learners, because this means that the language is going to stay with us longer. This specific article that you are reading right now was inspired by the cool people over at FluentU, and in their blog post mentioned above they list 7 tips for learning Spanish through songs and music. If you have never considered using music in your foreign language to help you learn, then you may need some guidance on how you can do it effectively, so here are 3 more tips to help you learn your foreign language through music:
1. Choose songs where the words are pronounced clearly – At least do this in the beginning. When you’re first starting out you want to be motivated to continue, so if you start out with a rap song or maybe even a reggaeton song (If you’re learning Spanish like me) you’re going to come across a lot of words that are mispronounced; this may further confuse and discourage you. Of course you can and should work your way to this type of music if you really like it, but just know that it’s a process.
2. Listen to the song first for enjoyment – Before you try to understand what is being said or try to pick out words that you already know, just listen to the song and enjoy it first, dance! Music is so fun, and the more fun you have, the easier it is to learn.
3. Write out the lyrics (Or copy and paste them) and try to see how you can use them in everyday conversation – This is a really fun and interesting exercise that I do. This does take time, but it really gets you using the language, and that helps you to retain it and make it your own.
4. Use FluentU – If you prefer a method that is as equally as fun and effective as writing out lyrics, but is a whole lot less work, then you should take a look at FluentU. FluentU is a language learning platform that allows you to learn your foreign language through various medias such as music and videos (movie trailers, interviews, inspiring speeches, etc.) with interactive foreign language captions (All captions are translated). The best part about it is that you can sign up for free.
The bottom line is that after having read this article you should be having much more fun learning your foreign language and should feel like you are spending less time “studying”