Learning Language Through Music

Learning Language Through Music

At the Newton Free Library we have been offering a class called “Learning Language Through Music”.  In this class we use YouTube videos featuring classical, folk, country, and contemporary music as a springboard for talk about music.  The strength of the program is that the participants not only improve their English as they are discussing the music, but they learn about music from all over the world.

The Newton Free Library presented a workshop at the May 2016 conference in Marlborough, MA called “Network 2016”.  A picture below is of the two presenters, Anna Yan and Dr. Arthur Gerstenfeld:


At the conference Art first described some of the recent research which shows a strong relationship between music and the brain.  Hearing music not only changes one’s mood, but the brain connects the music to the words which stay in our brains for long periods of time. One of the people from the conference thinks music is a Time Machine. It is Art’s belief that the brain connects music to words and we often can remember words from music from our childhood.

In some of the classes led by Art, the students present music from their own country and explain that music to the rest of the class.  Of course the presenter is using his or her best English during the presentation and the rest of the class is practicing their English as part of the discussion.  Here is an excerpt from Anna’s presentation:


Pipa is one of the most popular plucked string instruments in China.  Pear-shaped and guitar-sized, Pipa covers a large part of the player when it is played. That’s why pipa is said to be designed for traditional Chinese women, who are highly encouraged to have a reserved manner. Think of a lady who hides half of her face behind the upper part of pipa from time to time when she is playing the pipa in front of the one she likes in her heart.  For images and more information consult https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipa.



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