Learning a language through music. Thoughts?

Hi guys! Sami here - lifelong polyglot (Arabic, English fluent | German, Spanish advanced | Italian, French conversational | Korean = next up).

Have used many, many different methods throughout my life to learn, but what’s always worked best for me is music (apart from 1-on-1 interaction, of course).

So much so, that I created an app that teaches languages through music named Univoice: https://apple.co/3oCausq

Very curious to hear your thoughts - have you successfully employed music to learn a language before? If so, did you use it in isolation or as a supplement? If not, what about the method didn’t click for you?


Hi Sami!

There will actually be a panel discussion about that topic on Wednesday, with 2 great music lovers. Feel free to join us and submit your questions to them.


Oh how wonderful! I’ll definitely check it out, Miguel; thanks :slight_smile:


Sounds interesting! When will it be available for Android?


We are aiming for mid-2022 for Android!


Hi Sami

I think there are always pros and cons on this.

I love music, especially musicals, so music always forms part of my language learning. (In the case of Czech, it was Czech musicals that inspired me to take up the language!)

Listening to music is a great passive-learning exercise that can also become more of an active one if you study the lyrics in detail and/or sing the songs yourself, the latter allowing you to practice reading the text quickly (especially for languages with a different writing system/alphabet) and get used to pronouncing the words.

You do have to watch out for two things though: 1) Things like emphasis/stress and pitch will be different when sung compared to when spoken and 2) song lyrics are often not grammatically correct.

Japanese offers an example of both of the above. To fit melodies, words are often ‘lengthened’, with syllables that hit strong beats emphasised in a way they are not stressed when speaking. Meanwhile, song lyrics often ignore key grammar points such as ‘verb at the end of the sentence’ and use vocabulary that is fine in songs but which would not be suitable in conversation.

The danger in learning from songs is in picking up incorrect grammar, inappropriate vocabulary and strange pronunciation. But as long as you are using music alongside other resources and are thus aware of what is correct and what isn’t, I think it can be a really valuable tool. Listening to music can help with acquiring new vocabulary, and it’s a great activity for dead time, like on a commute, or even when you have a day where you don’t feel like a heavy-activity study session but still want to engage with the language.

Unfortunately, the panel discussion on this is taking place in the middle of the night for me, otherwise I would have come to join in the chat, but I’m glad to see it’s being recorded, as I would be interested to watch it later.

Best Wishes with your app!



I just wondered if this session on learning languages through music was recorded. I had thought it said it was going to be when I saw it listed in the programme, but no recording is yet available in Saturn Theatre.
Did I read it wrong and was it not recorded, or is it still coming to watch on demand later?

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Nicki, really enjoyed reading through your elaborate thoughts on this topic.

I completely agree that music is a supplement (not standalone) solution for learning a language; while the pitfalls you cited are founded (i.e. picking up incorrect grammar or strange pronunciation), there are also unique benefits that ‘music as a method’ presents, such as learning colloquial and idiomatic speech, in addition to proper ‘textbook’ speak.

Thanks for the well wishes :slight_smile:


It was recorded. Richard will surely upload it later, and since the past videos of the week were appearing in the Saturn Theatre, keep your eyes open for the video in that room later on as well. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the confirmation. I will watch out for it coming out in Saturn Theatre/YouTube.

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