Are musicians better language learners?

According to an article I read in The Guardian yesterday, research has found that children who learn music, especially before the age of seven, find it easier to learn languages in later life. They also tend to develop larger vocabularies, and are better at grammar and high verbal IQs.

The writer of the piece, Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay from Finland, trawled through many scientific journals and noticed that early musical training “is the only proven method to boost the full intellectual, linguistic and emotional capacity of a child.” Even one hour a week of musical training is sufficient to improve language skills and general IQ. She also cites studies that suggest that singing developed in our ancestors before language, and that language might have developed from singing.

If you had early musical training, do you think it helped with your language learning?

This entry was posted in Language, Language learning, Music.

3 Responses to Are musicians better language learners?

  1. TJ says:

    Well, I have to say, I didn’t pay much attention to musical classes back in my childhood. I do like music (despite being from a conservative family here) but in the current days, my taste had been off, and I listen only when I drive mostly, and mostly classical.

    I have a friend who is a gifted “player” .. he can’t read musical notes and doesn’t know much about the musical systems, yet he can play music on his keyboard just by listening to the tones. He once told me that he has some visual system in his mind that correlates to the notes he would listen to. His English is moderate, and when we tried to learn German together, he couldn’t get through much of it. Probably it’s because of his stuttering problem but I think it is more than that since he, surprisingly, doesn’t apply vowels correctly (e.g. he pronounces “hier” and “here” as “hare”). You would expect such a musician with hearing ability to be more careful with vowels!

  2. Lev says:

    Usually when you read about science in a non-scientific journal, it’s BS. In this case, the BS is pretty obvious, because if you follow any of the 3 links to scientific articles, you will see that none of them are related to what is stated in the link text.

    Basically, it’s an ad for a book.

  3. David Eger says:

    Without a large study sample, it is not possible to prove a causal link; even with a large study sample, we cannot be sure which is the cause and which is the effect, or whether both linguistic and musical ‘gifts’ are manifestations of the same neurological characterics. Even if we were to draw our study sample at birth and deprive half the sample of any opportunities for developing musical skills up to a certain age (a form of child abuse), the results might well be skewed by the trauma caused.

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