Learning Language through Music

Being half Korean and having never been taught to speak the language really took a toll on my childhood. I felt that a part of me was missing – that I couldn’t truly say I was who I was because of my language barrier. I don’t know if any of you have felt that way with your culture, but it caused a spark in me: if no one was to teach me a language that I feel was essential to know, I would simply have to teach myself. With the blessings of the internet and a voice, I learned the basic fundamentals of a language through listening to Korean music.

The Korean characters. (photo by Sam Pullara)

The Korean characters. (photo by Sam Pullara)

There are a few things I learned about language through the use of music (keep in mind that this is in general, not just for Korean music):

1. If you listen to a language enough, you get to hear its sentence structure, which is a key aspect to a language. You could know all of the words in the dictionary, but without the sentence structure and ways to use the words (for example, in English, adding -ing and -ed to a word may make the tense change) you will not be able to do anything with your knowledge.

2. Additionally, you will most likely hear idioms (which truly make a person intelligent in the sense of language) spewed through out the songs – as well as slang, colloquialisms, and dialects. This helps you to sound less like a foreigner – because then they can see that you are in tune with the language, the culture, and its people.

3. Well, you can actually learn what words mean too! Eventually, you will start to hear patterns and words referred to often. These are most likely basic words, such as “like” and “happy,” but you still need these words as a foundation nonetheless! You can look up the lyrics to a respective song and pick out the word that you hear often to learn what it is – either through a translator or a website like jpopasia that has both the romanji, english, and korean lyrics posted so you can learn how to say the words, as well as see the lyrics!

4. Singing can, as well as knowing idioms, help to reduce your foreign accent. At least, that’s what the writers at fluentin3months say! I see it too, although I never listened to the music enough to get rid of my American accent for some words and sounds. However, I assume that if one were fully dedicated to the music (whereas I can’t do that – I get sick of music too easily) then they would be able to do the same that the writer in question did.

Now you are able to see how you can, in fact, learn a language through its respective musics. Regardless of the genre, the music is worth listening to if you plan on learning the language. It reveals a lot about sound and meaning – and makes you appear more knowledgeable than others are.


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