top of page

The Relationship between Music and Language Learning

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

The methods I used in my classroom, the enthusiastic attitude of the children, the visible progress in the learning process and the feedback I received from the parents encouraged me to research the relationship between music and language learning and write an article for ÜtopÇa.

Music has such an inclusive use in literature that it is not surprising that it supports language learning. The reason for this is that music and language meet on a common ground in people's communication with each other and even in expressing themselves.

A baby begins to hear a person's speech in the same way as a musical note, sing a word, and begin to produce sounds in the same way. In the same way that the brain does not look at music and language as separate parts at an early age, it perceives language as a very special part of music. There are also those who argue that our speaking situation, which is a form of communication, has evolved from our original development and the way we use music. This explains the overlap in the neural connections associated with music and language in our brains, and why a child who engages in music is better at grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation of any language.

It has been proven that children who begin their musical education before the age of seven have a larger vocabulary, higher verbal IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and a better perception of grammar. This conclusion is also based on the example of the Guardian columnist, Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay.

“In my home country of Finland, the average citizen can speak three or five different languages ​​– after all, no one understands our complex mother tongue. But babies in Finland acquire the basic musical skills through song and play, a tradition of our own early music education, Finnish 'Finnish'. It is quite possible that it has affected the fluency of the students in foreign languages."

Also, in a recent study with children aged nine and under, it was concluded that children who received only one hour of music instruction had higher proficiency in pronunciation and grammar in foreign languages, compared to their friends who did different activities.

Music can be seen as a cultural and artistic formation, but it has been frequently encountered in the field of cognitive neuroscience in recent years. Music stimulates activations in the right brain, where the auditory part of our brain is located. This is learning and memory; flexibility of the brain; perceptual operations; and activates the mirror neuron system. Thus, visual patterns such as certain sounds and musical notes continuously provide feedback to us throughout our learning process, including different perceptions.

Like language, music is hierarchically structured. It serves different perceptions arranged in series. Thus, music and language complement each other in the study of the brain mechanisms underlying complex sound processing. Therefore, music and instruments are used as promising instructional tools in education; Mozart Effect, Orff Schulwerk, Dalcroze Method, Gordon's Music Learning Theory are popular musical education approaches.

Of course, the relationship between music and language is not limited to children under the age of nine. It is quite possible to see the effect of music on language in adults:

Take Ken Stringfellow, an American singer-songwriter known for his work in Posies and REM, as an example of the influence of music on foreign language learning ability. Ken married a French woman ten years ago, in his thirties, and was introduced to a new language that was completely foreign to him and was able to learn it in a jiffy. It may come as a surprise that Ken, who has no educational background next to adults who studied French at school for 12 years, or who, like us, studied English for 12 years in primary school but could not speak a word, could learn a whole new language so quickly and at such a late age. However, it is obvious that Ken's brain, who has devoted himself to music since infancy, greatly increases his brain capacity for syntax, semantics and pronunciation, which are necessary when learning a new language in adulthood.

In short, infuse music into your life as much as you can. Listen to songs, sing, "the job after forty?" learn to play an instrument without saying; Challenge yourself and add innovations to your life. Even you will not believe how much you have changed in your life by attempting only one thing. If you have a child or any other child around you, immerse him in the music, dance with him, discuss the lyrics, shout or feel the wrong but right song with your heart.

For in-class work, you can check the links below:

My student who studied piano in Grade 1 and received only ten hours of English per week:
"Food names" work for 1st Graders
"Preposition" work for 1st Graders




bottom of page