Singing in a Foreign Language Boosts Learning

Friday, 19 Jul 2013 01:07 PM

By Nick Tate

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Want to learn a new language fast? Try singing a song in that tongue. That’s the upshot of new research that suggests singing in a foreign language can significantly improve learning how to speak it.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Reid School of Music, found adults who listened to Hungarian phrases and then sang them back performed better than those who merely spoke the phrases.

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"This study provides the first experimental evidence that a listen-and-repeat singing method can support foreign language learning, and opens the door for future research in this area," said Karen M. Ludke, M.D., who conducted the research at the University of Edinburgh's Institute for Music in Human and Social Development.
 
"One question is whether melody could provide an extra cue to jog people's memory, helping them recall foreign words and phrases more easily."
 
Dr. Ludke said Hungarian was chosen because it is unfamiliar to most English speakers and is a difficult language to master. It has a completely different structure and sound system to the Germanic or Romance languages, such as Spanish and French.
 
The study was published in the journal Memory & Cognition.

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