If you ask people who are successful in learning foreign languages what are their favorite methods for studying a new language, many will mention learning from songs. The first thing that comes to your mind would probably be, oh yes, because it is so PLEASANT, you listen to nice music and enjoy the emotions that the music brings. But it is not all there is to this seemingly easy method.
First of all, a song represents part of the CULTURE of the language you study, it is REAL, unlike a study book texts that usually sound very artificial. No matter if you are a beginner or an advanced student, this method allows you to immerse in a real life experience that you share with the society you would like to get to know better.
A song is an artistic expression, you can feel all the emotions, and as you recognize the EMOTIONAL weight of the words, they become easier to remember. This is true, music and emotions definitely help getting our ATTENTION and making the phrases stick longer in our memory.
Another advantage of using a song for learning a language is that songs usually RHYME and even if not, they preserve a certain RHYTHM. The lyrics are naturally divided by the rhythm into SHORT phrases, which usually are written in everyday language and composed in quite SIMPLE grammar.
Ok, so how do I start studying a foreign language from a song?
Find a group or a singer that you like – no use listening for hours to someone you don’t appreciate. Preferably choose songs performed by a single person and sung in an easily understandable way – no choirs, no opera divas, no roaring metal bands, no speed of light rapping gangstas. You should be able to recognize single words when listening to the song and reading the lyrics simultaneously.
Once you have your set of songs, three to five to start with, search for the lyrics in the original language and check if you can find their translations into your native tongue. If translations are nowhere to be found, you can use Google translator (with all its faults, it is a very useful tool, just don’t trust it too much), or you can choose to use translations into a language you already know. When I was studying Italian, I used English translations, as translations into Polish were unavailable at the time.
You can find useful material on Youtube, like for instance here:
In the next post we will be talking about how to use the songs and materials you prepared to achieve our two goals: native-like pronunciation and easy way to understanding the grammar. Keep tuned!