How singing helps you with your pronunciation

Share it

Some lucky people only need to hear a word from a foreign language once, whether it is German, Italian, Icelandic, Wolof, or Thai, and can immediately reproduce it effortlessly. On the other hand, most people need more time and practice before they internalize the pronunciation of a word. In this article, we talk about how singing helps you with your pronunciation. And of course, there are some recommendations for German songs if you scroll down.

by Asia Mugliari

Several studies combining brain research, psychology, linguistics and music have shown in the recent years that experience with music or singing can be of great advantage. Languages and music or singing are not as different as one might think. Just consider that speaking and singing develop spontaneously and simultaneously in children, because similar brain areas are responsible for this. In addition, both function via hearing and the voice. 

The imitation game

What does this mean in practice? With both music and languages, we try to imitate what we hear. Both are first about perception of sounds and then about reproduction via imitation. In the lessons in our app, we teach you that one of the most important tricks to learning pronunciation is lots and lots of practice. The more often you hear a sound, the easier it becomes to perceive and reproduce it. If you have this practice even in your free time or professionally through music, then your ears are more trained than those of a person who has nothing to do with music. 

It is also interesting that singers seem to do even better than instrument players in learning pronunciation. This is due to the fact that singing involves similar articulatory mechanisms in the mouth as in pronunciation learning. In addition, singers develop a spatial notion of speech, for example in terms of pitch and rhythm, but also in terms of timbre, which can help in the qualitative and quantitative discrimination of vowels. 

You don't need to be a Superstar

But: If you are famous for not being able to hold a melody and everyone leaves as soon as you start singing, this does not mean that your career as a pronunciation learner is doomed to failure! First of all, the correlation between pronunciation and musical singing experience is a tendency, but not an absolute truth that applies in 100% of cases. Besides, it is never too late to acquire this experience, be it in the choir, in singing lessons or even in the karaoke bar. Singing helps you with your pronunciation no matter the skill level.

Another helpful fact is: musical talent isn’t everything, and much more important than natural talent is the practice you put into both singing and speaking. You can always start listening to songs at home and singing along to improve your pronunciation, too. It makes sense to start with simple songs that don’t have a lot of lyrics and tend to repeat the same phrases several times, for example children’s songs or Christmas songs. You can choose the genre according to your taste: Rock, punk, pop, jazz or opera, the main thing is to have lyrics that you can sing along with very loudly. You can do this anywhere, but if it still takes some effort, it works best in the shower! But please consider the neighbors and not at 3am – sylby wants to stay popular not only with you, but also with your neighbors 🙂

Need recommendations? Start here!

Now, it is just up to you to go out there and experience German music. Find the song, find the lyrics (and close your windows if needed). For all of those who need a hint, here are some song recommendations from the sylby team. And because we are based in Berlin, we added some Berlin themed songs to the list.

Nothing to your liking? There are many more songs in German that you can sing along to help you with your pronunciation. Why don’t you let us know your favourites? Oh, and if you have trouble remembering the prepositions in German check out Die Präpositionen by Ulla and Ulrik Neumann. 

Curious now? Download the app and try sylby for yourself!
Team sylby
Team sylby