Sing that to me

Researchers in France have discovered that people tend to find foreign words easier to remember if those words are sung rather than spoken according to an article I found yesterday.

The researchers repeatedly played a recording of number of made-up words made using a speech synthesiser to a group people. Then they played the words again along with other words and asked the people say which of the words were on the first recording. When the first recording was made using ordinary speech, the participants did very poorly. However after listening to a recording of the words being sung, the participants could recall two thirds of them.

The conclusion was that you tend to engage emotionally with words when they’re sung, and that the singing can help you to identify which syllabic sounds tend to come together. The researchers commented that “Learning a foreign 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.”

This entry was posted in Language.

0 Responses to Sing that to me

  1. dmh says:

    When I first met my wife, I couldn’t tell the difference between Russian and Ukrainian when she spoke them. I thought they sounded the same. But after about a month of listening to Russian songs on internet radio while she visited her family in the Ukraine, she came back and brought back some Ukrainian music (Okean Elzy – one of the best rock bands ever.) When I listened to them for the first time, I definitely knew that it wasn’t Russian…

  2. Nik says:

    I don’t think that would work for me. I have a hard enough time comprehending sung English, much less a language I’m learning!

  3. Colm says:

    I guess it both depends on the language learner and on the singer. I find some singers quite easy to understand but others impossible, regardless of whether they be in my mother tongue or not.

    There is a programme called Ear Worms whereby you hear words and phrases spoken to you and repeated a number of times accompanied by a tune and I found that it works the same way as a catchy upbeat song. You find yourself joining in after a while and it really helps remember the words and phrases.

  4. PP says:

    If the words were sung every time with the same melody, then it’s possible they recognised and remembered the melody.

    And, does “a continuous stream of these words” means these words were not separated in any way? (French does not separate words in speech, am I right?) Then there is no way they could separate words from each other and of course they could not recognise them.

  5. Nic says:

    I don’t know about that. When words are sung, they lose part if not all of their accent. Maybe you would remember the word itself better, but not how to properly pronounce it….

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