If You Want Children to Learn Language, Teach Them Music

From an early age, we listen to music through poetry and nursery rhymes. As we get older, we learn our alphabet through a melody, and once we begin schooling, we continue to learn how to memorize rules and definitions through the same musical method.

Language is the medium by which people communicate across cultures. Through this definition, we can also say that music is a language on its own. An Iraqi man, known by the name ‘Ziryab’ was one of the first people ever to open a music school in Spain, signifying music’s ability to cross between borders – before the year 875 AD.

Why music is better than extra reading lessons
According to a recent study by MIT, piano lessons have been found to improve kindergarteners’ ability to distinguish between different sounds, which has enhanced their ability to identify different words through pitch.

The study suggests that musical training can be more beneficial in developing language skills for children than additional reading lessons.
The study took place in Beijing, with 74 participating children – from 4 to 5 years old, with Mandarin as their native language – divided into 3 groups;

- One group took 45-minute piano lessons thrice every week
- The second ground received extra reading lessons
- The third group did not receive any of the above-mentioned lessons

After six months, children were tested on their ability to distinguish different words on the basis of vowels, consonants, or tone. Students who took piano lessons performed the best, while the second group came in second – with both groups performing better than the third group which did not receive any intervention.

Phonetics is one of the main components of language, and being proficient in phonetics allows for better listening skills which enhance one’s ability to distinguish between sounds. Therefore, their listening skills are high. According to the study, being aware of “the sound structure of words” is essential in the learning process of reading.

Music is now a learning objective by the UAE curriculum
The learning objectives defined by the UAE curriculum have been changed in recent years to shed more light on the significance of literature, cultural studies and music. It has reformed its Arabic language curriculum to include the study of history and culture, so that Arabic lessons can incorporate more than only the traditional study of the language, in order to better arm students with a more meaningful grasp of the language. Moreover, educational reforms within the UAE’s education system such as increasing the number of music lessons for students weekly showcase the UAE’s efforts to provide children with a well-rounded educational experience.

Abjadiyat, the Arabic learning app, follows these steps by adding songs and music as a mean to teach the Arabic language. This helps students remain engaged, memorize more easily, and enjoy the study of language.

Finnish children: a case study
Though children in Finland start schooling at a later stage than most children in the world (at seven years old) they are musically trained from a very early stage. Despite starting school ‘late’, most Finnish people speak an average of 4 languages – a testament to the importance of music in language development.

Although music may seem like a waste of time to some, research is proving the significance of melody in language development – so, if you’ve been on the edge about signing up your child for music lessons, you know what to do!
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