Music helps students learn foreign languages



    Getting a song stuck inside your head may actually help you learn — especially if the song is in another language. Some students are finding that listening to repetitive music assists them in studying foreign languages.

    If a student were asked to sing a hymn, he or she would have to start at the beginning in order to remember the whole song, according to Clayne Robison, a BYU professor of music. “This also happens with students who are trying to learn a language,” he said.

    When conjugating verbs, memorizing vocabulary or learning sentence structures, students are discovering that the melodic patterns help them become more familiar with languages.

    “I listen to French music. It helps me remember verbs, conjugations and word association,” said Brock Lyle, 21, a sophomore from Park City, majoring in comparative literature.

    “The melody reinforces the word and the word reinforces the melody,” Robison said.

    There are choir clubs on campus that also help students learn foreign languages.

    Erin Spackman, director of the French choir club, said she is eager to begin practices this semester.

    “The music is great and very moving. Singing in another language is a great way to understand it,” she said.

    Along with the French choir club, BYU has choirs in German and Scanadavian languages.

    Nate Smith, a past member of the German choir club, said he appreciated the help music gave to his pronunciation.

    “When holding a long note, you have to concentrate more on its pronunciation,” Smith said.

    Besides learning the language structurally, these clubs give students cultural understanding.

    “Singing helps you learn about the culture. You gain a greater appreciation,” Smith said.

    Smith also said all students are invited to attend.

    “Anyone can sing. We have 101 students, return missionaries and graduate students. It is a great way to meet people,” Spackman said.

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