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Sing Along to Improve Mastery of a Foreign Language

Sing Along to Improve Mastery of a Foreign Language 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 thanĀ  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

Woman listening to headphones photo by shutterstock.

Sing Along to Improve Mastery of a Foreign Language

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Sing Along to Improve Mastery of a Foreign Language. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 15, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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