Everyone of us likes music and listens to it regularly, be it pop, classical music, reggae or anything else. Listening to music is often associated with free time, recreation and fun. On the other hand, learning German sometimes seems to be the opposite of recreation. But why not combine learning German together with another activity we feel good about?!
If you have no idea of how this could work, here are six and a half reasons why learning German with music makes total sense.
1. It is fun!
Learning a new language, especially German, is without a doubt a great challenge. To keep it interesting, it is important to vary the ways that you learn. Music gives you the opportunity to deal with German in a playful and vivid way. Moreover, you can choose the music you really enjoy, as you can find all kinds of musical genres in German music (did you know that there is German Reggae or German Bossa Nova?).
2. Singers sing slow – great for listening comprehension
Except in hip-hop music, vocalists normally sing much slower than they would talk in a normal conversation. Most of the time there are certain parts of the lyrics (the chorus, and sometimes also some verses) which are repeated in the song. All this helps you to understand what the lyrics are about. For beginners, I recommend childrens’ songs or most songs from the band “Rammstein”, because of the simple language structure used. To enjoy Rammstein's lyrics, it is recommended not to take them too seriously--the band doesn't take themselves too seriously either!
It is scientifically proven, independent of the music you choose, that new words or phrases are memorized easier in combination with a melody – try to remember how most of us learned the alphabet in school.
3. It will boost your pronunciation
Listening to German music often or even singing it (under the shower, in the car or in front of impressed friends) lets the language stay in your head beyond your German class, which will aid you in your pronunciation. The more German you listen to, the more you get used to it. You can improve your pronunciation not only by trying to imitate how natives speak, but also by listening to the German language as much as possible. And it won't get boring quickly listening to the German language, if the natives are singing it to you.
4. Written lyrics are good for text comprehension
If you don't understand every word of the lyrics by listening, you can also work with the written lyrics that you can find easily on the internet. There are also many YouTube videos of German songs that show the written lyrics while playing the music. This approach allows you to immerse deeper into the lyrics and its content.
By the way, there are many songs that repeat one specific grammatical element, which is perfect for studying (for example the sentence construction with Perfekt and Präteritum in “Nur für Dich” by the Wise Guys; or the use of modal verbs in “Keiner ist wie Du” by Sarah Connor).
5. It will boost your vocabulary
Songs about certain themes (like summer, eating, etc.) introduce new useful words of a certain context. But more valuable is the fact that lyrics often use words and expressions that you won't find in your German textbook. Knowing the meaning of popular expressions is an important part of understanding German, as we use them often to express something specific. Listening to these expressions constantly, you will get used to them and even know when to use them.
6. You get to know the versatility of German culture and thinking
German lyrics are authentic texts that show individual perspectives of German thinking. All these perspectives combined portray a German culture which is actually very eclectic. As a German- learner you should probably be interested in getting to know the variety and richness of German culture.
Music has a great intercultural potential, because it gives you the possibility to recognize and compare cultural differences between your culture and the German culture. Anna Depenbusch`s ”Heimat”, for example, is a good example of the complex German sense of home.
6 ½. A German Ear-worm (“Ohrwurm”) accompanies you even outside your German lessons
The German “Ohrwurm” is a popular expression for catchy melodies that you just can't get out of your head. If you listen to German music regularly, you will encounter plenty of “Ohrwürmer” and they will help you to fulfill your purpose: That German came in your head to stay.
Combining learning German with listening to German music is useful AND enjoyable, as the efficacy of one's learning depends on the joy and fun one has in the learning process.
Music can't replace your German studies, but it can be an important part of your journey to discover the richness of German language and culture. Enthusiasm for a certain type of music can even be the initial motivation for learning a new language. I myself started to learn Portuguese because I fell in love with Bossa Nova music. Nowadays I am fluent in Portuguese and live in Brazil.
If you know more reasons than the ones mentioned here, or if you want to tell others about your favorite German song you learned German with, feel free to share this in the comments.
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