How to learn a language from songs
I bet you’ve tried learning a foreign language from your favourite song. ‘Despacito’ anyone? I bet you have tried translating it into English! No? Well, have a go and see what you think…
Why am I talking about this anyway? Because although the title of this post is ‘how to learn languages from songs’, I’m also going to cover the topic of ‘is it a good idea to learn languages from songs’.
If you’d rather watch my video on this topic, here it is! Otherwise, keep reading.
Learning a language from music
Don’t get me wrong – it’s great that people want to learn languages from music. In fact, many people start learning a new language precisely because they heard a song and they liked it.
Despacito? OK, let’s be serious for a second.
Take the K-pop trend. Everyone is suddenly learning Korean! Why? Because they’re into K-pop and they want to be able to sing along and know what they’re actually singing along to.
So, yes – music can be a great motivator for learning a language, but…
Language in song lyrics is not always ‘real’ language
Think about a song you like in your native language. Think about its lyrics. Are they full sentences? Are they always correct? Sometimes they are. But sometimes there’s not. Sometimes they actually do not make sense at all.
The truth is, when you’re writing a song, you need to make the lyrics match your tune (doing it the other way round is possible but much more challenging, I imagine).
So, what happens is often a song will contain a combination of random words or it will be grammatically incorrect.
Take Alicia Keys’ ‘Empire State of Mind’. ‘Concrete jungle where dreams are made of’ – ‘of’?! You needed that extra word for the tune to make sense but grammatically, that line is a disaster. (I love the song, by the way!)
Can you learn a language from music then?
You can definitely use music to support your language learning. As long as you bear in mind what I said above. Here are some tips on how to make the most of songs for language learning:
Listen to songs to familiarise yourself with the sound of the language
Check the lyrics and focus on individual words (rather than sentences or phrases). Read them and look up the ones you don’t understand. Listen to the song and concentrate on understanding how the words are pronounced by the artist.
Memorise the lyrics and learn to sing along
Memorising the words is a good exercise – not just for your memory but for your confidence as well. Memorising will involve listening to, reading and saying the words out loud so you’ll be practising three important skills at the same time.
Once you’ve memorised the lyrics and can sing along to the song confidently, you’ll have a sense of freedom – you’ll be able to articulate language seamlessly without thinking about it. It’s probably as liberating as being able to speak it fluently. So, your confidence will get a boost as a result.
I hope you found these tips useful! Do you learn languages form songs? Share your experiences in the comments below!