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Learning a language through music?

So I’m having fun w a new (to me) language learning app that an acquaintance told me about that they used to learn English.

The premise is to learn language through songs - which, there’ve been a lot of studies about the impact of learning and music, as well as “natural language acquisition” (which is basically the same premise the StoryLearning courses use).   Up till now, I’ve found some Spanish songs, and read the words along while they play (thanks Apple Music Lyrics ;).  And while it’s been an interesting few train rides, I wouldn’t have been able to say if it was helping or not.

I picked this one solely for the pony,
but it ended up being a fun song anyways ;)
This is the screen at the start of the song.

This app ( on computer, or lingoclip app), which is ingenious in its simplicity, takes that to another level.  The music video plays while the lyrics scroll - but every once in a while a word is replaced w a dot.   You are given four possible answers with which to fill in the blank.   Wrong answers, taking too long, or needing to repeat the line all lose “life”.   The goal is to get to the end without too many mistakes.   It does a number of languages other than Spanish, but reviews suggest is only good for languages that natively use a latin alphabet).

So simple.  So irritatingly difficult ;).   There are four levels - I mostly play on “intermediate” which is the second level.  On the plus side, I play that level whether I know the song or not - which is kinda cool.  On the down side, songs I would’ve thought I know every word to, it turns out I do not ;).  If I’m having a bad day, I’m a pro at beginner level ;). Almost never miss one there!

So here are some things I’ve discovered that I never really absorbed from just reading the lyrics alone:

  • When I read lyrics it’s for comprehension and meaning.  With this app it’s for literal word recognition- it’s a much closer detail focus
  • it’s natural language.  So for instance, you get pa' instead of para and various other things.  There’s also slang and definitely nsfw vocabulary.  If it’s really bad they’ll blank the text but not mute the word in the song so that’s helping me learn the degrees of offensiveness ;).   
  • it really forces me to pay attention to details.  “Real” words I almost always get right but if I have el, tú, lo, and tu as options fml.   They’re going to be super fast, slurred or blended w another word, and I’ll have to remember if there sb an accent or not.   If it were just a grammar exercise, no problem, but this is at the speed of someone singing - there’s no time to think it through.  Esp as I don’t tend to pick slow songs ;)
  • Some songs I thought I knew really well I realized I was just making stuff up 😂.  The actual words are at times not even close.
  • The app tells you where the song is from, and it makes a big difference.   Latin America in general is way more expressive tones and likely to have spaces between their words than Spain.   Although both are super fast.   Argentina (and a little bit Uruguay?!?!) has it’s own take on the language - wtf?!?  Lol.  Like not just pronunciation but an entirely different verbs (sos anybody?) that would’ve been insanely confusing except that I’d seen it before (thanks Netflix!).   Columbia is the one I find easiest but that could well be cause my first two Spanish teachers ever were from there, so that’s what I have the most experience with.   Side note - I’m getting better at identifying flags from Spanish speaking countries ;)
  • You don’t actually have to understand the words to score well on a song but I found I was picking up far more of the meaning than I would’ve expected given that I was putting zero effort into understanding it.   Presumably because of the focused attention to detail and repetition if I replay a song two or twenty times.
  • There’s a karaoke version that just lets you read the words with nothing missing.  Also apparently in any version of you click on the word it’ll give a translation, except my phone is still in Spanish for the other course I’m doing so this is less useful 🤦‍♀️  (edited after to say - I tested this out and it lets you pick the language you want to translate it to)
  • There’s also a version where you have to write the missing word (as opposed to select it); I was warned “it’s impossible”.  I admit I haven’t tried it yet ;).  Maybe when advanced is easy. 


I wish it had a way to preview the songs - I’m now at the point where I’m picking them based on the cover photo 😂.  One I picked solely cause it had a dancing pony; lol it was a riot and kept me going a whole train ride one day.    I also just learned that Moana is available in Spanish but has a different name - Vaiana.  Clearly I will have to watch this some afternoon ;)

I also wish you could see what your top score on any song was (I play a lot harder if I’m trying to beat a previous score).  And to see at a glance which songs you have/have not played before.   They have this data but it’s not easily accessible.

Overall, is it going to teach a language on its own?  Probably not easily.  But it definitely can help refine both understanding and fluency.  And it’s fun and addictive so why not?


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