If you’ve ever studied for a language exam (or indeed any other exam), then you may know that putting information into song form is a tried and tested way to strengthen memory. In fact, you may have forgotten most written information a few months down the track but still remembered a song you reframed so as to include the information or language you were trying to remember. Research by Daniel Schön, Maud Boyer, and Sylvain Moreno has found that when language learning comprises sung sequences, there is “a strong learning facilitation.” The scientists conclude that “learning a new language, especially in the first learning phase wherein one needs to segment new words, may largely benefit from the motivational and structuring properties of music in song.”
Assimilating Syntax, Context And Pronunciation
The correct use of language involves specific arrangements of words and phrases (or syntax), and music can help learners remember words within their correct arrangement. Of course, when you sing and eventually memorize specific groups of words, it can help in many additional ways – including clarifying context, using the correct intonation, and learning rhyme. Songs can also remove the fear of getting pronunciation wrong, since songs give learners the opportunity to practice many potentially difficult diphthongs, letters and vowels. They can also be used to establish rhythm and stress, and formulaic language (idioms, urban expressions, and the like).
Insecurities Around Singing
Language teachers or fellow students may find that some students are reticent to sing for similar reasons to why others are afraid of speaking in public. They may have experienced criticism for singing when they were younger, or simply feel like they cannot hold a tune. There are many ways that teachers can get around this – for instance, they can opt for group singing sessions rather than individual ones. They can also use fun, upbeat music that also involves body movement or dance (so that less emphasis is placed on aspects such as tonality). Students who actually love singing and wish to expand their vocal range or hone their skills, meanwhile, can opt for online or in-person classes. In order to kill two proverbial birds with one stone, they can opt to learn skills such as diaphragmatic control, breathing, and use of vibrato through Italian songs. Because home exercises are such an important part of learning to sing, students can strengthen their memory, rhythm, pronunciation, and other key components of language learning.
Songs To Consider
In order to motivate students, teachers can choose from slower as well as fast, upbeat songs, using the latter especially when students are asked to sing. In class, they can use slower, more thoughtful songs to analyze language, underline and discuss idioms and urban phrases, and practice intonation. For children, songs for younger listeners such as Giro giro tondo, or Il coccodrillo come fa? are a good place to startc and you will find many Italian kids’ musical sites that will provide hours of learning and fun. For adults, start out with simple songs such as Andrea Bocelli’s Con te partirò, Eros Ramazzotti’s Più bella cosa, or Lorenzo Jovanotti’s Un raggio de sole.
Learning language through song can help consolidate your memory of specific words and phrases. It can also help you pronounce words better, using the right intonation and rhythm. Songs are also a highly motivational, fun way to learn Italian, so whether you are a teacher or a student, ensure that music is a part of the daily process of learning.