The Benefits of Music for Learning a Second Language
In our previous blog, “The Power of Music for Bilingualism”, we discussed some of the key ways in which music can play a role in language learning during a child’s early years. There are countless benefits to including songs and rhymes in your efforts to introduce your child to a second language. Below are some of our favorite benefits of music and singing when it comes to learning a second language:
- Improved focus and learning: Songs help little ones focus as they listen attentively and eventually repeat what they heard in the song.
- Facilitates picking up sounds: Singing songs helps children recognize the individual sounds that make up new words which in turn, helps them associate these sounds with written words, and sound them out, as they grow and learn to read. This skill is honed even further by listening to different notes, pitches and rhythms found in songs.
- Provides rhyme and repetition: Singing songs with rhyme and repetition, like Los Pollitos Dicen, helps children learn and practice new vocabulary, sounds and language structure. Songs typically slow language down, so as they rhyme and repeat the words in a song, they learn to differentiate between similar sounds and letters, becoming more aware of the relationship between them, and to develop phonemic awareness while also helping them retain the words they are learning!
- Reduced pressure and anxiety: Language learning should be fun and natural for children, ingrained in their everyday activities, rather than a formal lesson. Music has the power to reduce the anxiety that can often arise from learning an unfamiliar language as well as help promote musical intelligence, retain their attention and maximize motivation. Additionally, music has the ability to help improve children’s listening comprehension, pronunciation and new vocabulary skills without feeling the pressure to learn a second language.
- Advanced vocabulary and grammatical exposure: The language used in music is oftentimes more poetic, elaborate and eloquent than spoken, everyday language. Songs introduce a wider grammatical range which opens the door for more advanced learning and essentially, more ways for little ones to express themselves and communicate in the new language.
- An exciting and motivating method: Listening to songs that they love and enjoy make children more likely to grasp the new words and memorize them more easily. It’s an easy and effective way to encourage them to repeat the new vocabulary in an exciting and motivating context. Children easily listen, sing along with the songs and learn them, effortlessly expanding their vocabulary as they do so and learning about the rhythm of the target language.
Provides culture exposure: By sharing songs from your culture with your child, you are sharing way more than just new vocabulary words; you are also giving them insights into that culture’s vocabulary, dialect and form of expression. Music is a window into a country’s values, lifestyle, and mannerisms, so use cultural music to expose your child to your culture!
The best part about music is that it’s one of the easiest methods of language learning to incorporate into your busy day. It can be as simple as singing along to children’s sound books and toys that encourage language development, like Binibi’s musical books, making up songs about things that are entertaining to your child or things you are doing together, blasting music in the car and singing along together or singing during specific routine activities like bedtime, mealtime or naptime. Play songs your child enjoys in their dominant language in the target language so that they can make associations between words in both languages and gravitate towards the song and melody even more to encourage language learning. We’ll take any excuse to blast a good song, sing at the top of our lungs and just have fun with our little ones!