I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by different languages all of my life. Having an Indian and Jamaican heritage, studying French when I was in high school, and being fortunate enough to travel to many countries in my 20 years, I have really been able to learn about culture…especially through music.
I had recently visited my Indian grandparents, and we sat down to watch a good ol’ Indian movie. Now, Indian films tend to have a lot of music and singing in them, and this particular film inspired a lot of interest. One song from the movie 'Ramaiya Vastavaiya' was called ‘Jeene Laga Hoon’ – I have no idea what it means. Quite odd for a guy who says that he has Indian heritage, ay? This song also reminded me of a really old Indian song called ‘Chura Liya Hai’ which I know the lyrics to, but have no understanding of. I have always regretted not learning my native Indian language, which is Gujarati, and because of this I have lost a lot of time being able to communicate with my grandparents effectively.
Now at university, I have been able to experience music from different cultures even more as I have been fortunate enough to meet people who have introduced me to so many amazing songs. This got me thinking – a lot of the songs I’ve listened to that are in a different language got me singing along in a different language. It really interested me how music can be used a start-up tool to learning a new language, so I got to researching. I came across a really interesting article about music and languages. Your brain is known to be split into two hemispheres – the ‘logical’ left side and the ‘creative’ right side of the brain. According to this article, language is located on the left side of the brain, whereas music can be found to activate both hemispheres. Here’s the really interesting bit – have you ever remembered the lyrics to a song/foreign song you haven’t heard in a decade or so? Well, listening to music that has a foreign language in it allows you to easily develop your tone, accent and rhythm when speaking in another language, as well as remembering lyrics you may have forgotten. THAT’S AMAZING! I mean, music in itself is a tool to learn a new language.
Listening to music with a different language FIRST, rather than learning to speak it, is like walking into the shallow part of a swimming pool first rather than diving straight it. You begin to get comfortable with it, learning the tones and sounds, and once you have absorbed it, learning the technical parts of learning a language is a piece of cake! I’ve really come to appreciate songs from different languages, and knowing that it has an effect on learning a new language, it may be a starter to properly learning any of the Indian languages. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t happen overnight, and it may not even work…BUT IT’S MUSIC, and I LOVE MUSIC.
So if you’re looking to start learning a new language, don’t intimidate yourself by jumping straight in. Get those earphones in and start listening to music with the targeted language you want learn. Really absorbed the sounds and who knows, you may become a master linguistic. Click here to have a look at the article, it's a really good read!
From your musically inspired language lover,