Monday, February 7, 2011

Music & language

The link between music and language has been well-established. Speakers of tonal languages are much more likely to have perfect pitch, for example.

But let's look at it from a different angle, or tune, if you will. How can music be used to help learn a language? Listening to music in your target language helps build your vocabulary, but singing along also helps you match your pronunciation, intonation and speech rhythm to that of the native speaker (or singer, as the case is here). Also, a recent study found that singing words, rather than speaking them, improves the listener's ability to distinguish the end of one word from the beginning of the next. (Anyone who has ever heard a string of unending French can identify with this challenge!)

NPR's World Music is a good place to start discovering music in your target language. (This is where I first heard Malian singer Rokaya Traoré, one of my current favorites.)

Thanks to the Matador Network, I've also been listening to Souad Massi, an Algerian woman who sings in her native Arabic, as well as French and Spanish.

Shifting musical style gears, but staying within the French language, Benjamin Biolay is offering a free download of his song 'La Superbe' until October 19th. Sounds like a good (free!) place to start to me.

What about you? Do you use music for language learning or as part of cultural immersion? Who do you recommend we listen to? Merci d'avance !

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