New research could profoundly change how a new language is learned, as scientists found that singing a foreign language can significantly improve learning to speak it.
In a new study, adults who listened to short Hungarian phrases and then sang them back performed better than those who spoke the phrases.
People who sang the phrases back also fared better than those who repeated the phrases by speaking them rhythmically.
Three randomly assigned groups of 20 adults took part in a series of five tests as part of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music.
The singing group performed the best in four of the five tests.
In one test, participants who learned through singing performed twice as well as participants who learned by speaking the phrases.
Those who learned by singing were also able to recall the Hungarian phrases with greater accuracy in the longer term.
Researcher chose to test their theory with Hungarian because it is unfamiliar to most English speakers and is a difficult language to master, with a completely different structure and sound system than Germanic or Romance languages, such as Spanish and French.
“This study provides the first experimental evidence that a listen-and-repeat singing method can support foreign language learning,” said Karen M. Ludke, Ph.D. “[It] opens the door for future research in this area.”
“One question is whether melody could provide an extra cue to jog people’s memory, helping them recall foreign words and phrases more easily.”
The study is published today in the journal Memory & Cognition.
Source: University of Edinburgh