Making Music, language learning style!

Language learning fun with music

Music makes the world go ’round!

Do you remember the old McDonald’s restaurant jingle, “You Deserve a Break Today?” I can’t say that I remember all the original words, but the tune is forever etched in my memory as the basis for the Preposition Song that I learned in 6th grade. My English teacher used the tune to teach us all of the prepositions–in alphabetical order, no less! I can sing it for you today although you probably won’t find it on any karaoke playlist!

Music and Learning

Music has a funny way of sticking in our brains, helping us recall otherwise forgettable information. While I struggled to remember all the state names for a social studies test back in the day, my kids have no problem with this task thanks to the “Fifty Nifty United States” song that they learned in elementary school. The simple songs that kids learn as toddlers can even pop up in unexpected situations: my son’s first grade class used Mary Had A Little Lamb to help them remember the days of the week.

Music and Memory

Music helps tie information to our brains in a way that simply hearing words or reading them cannot. Studies of the brain show that music engages many regions that are tied to language development, emotion and stress reduction. If we apply these ideas to the process of learning a new language, it is easy to see how music could play a positive role in language recognition and recall.

When learning a new language, why not set a simple conversation or a list of colors to music? Drawing on a familiar childhood tune will help both adults and children recall the vocabulary in an enjoyable way. You can even create your own original songs to help you remember vocabulary. Students in my language class last week made up their own song about French vegetables, inspired by the unique pronunciation of several words. The faster they sang, the more the song became a tongue-twister! They had lots of fun learning the song and seeing how quickly they could sing it….and the result is that they were repeating the words over and over, helping them to remember in a fun, engaging, musical way!