Singing can facilitate foreign language learning

Karen M. Ludke, Fernanda Ferreira, Katie Overy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


This study presents the first experimental evidence that singing can facilitate short-term paired-associate phrase learning in an unfamiliar language (Hungarian). Sixty adult participants were randomly assigned to one of three "listen-and-repeat" learning conditions: speaking, rhythmic speaking, or singing. Participants in the singing condition showed superior overall performance on a collection of Hungarian language tests after a 15-min learning period, as compared with participants in the speaking and rhythmic speaking conditions. This superior performance was statistically significant (p < .05) for the two tests that required participants to recall and produce spoken Hungarian phrases. The differences in performance were not explained by potentially influencing factors such as age, gender, mood, phonological working memory ability, or musical ability and training. These results suggest that a "listen-and-sing" learning method can facilitate verbatim memory for spoken foreign language phrases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-52
Number of pages12
JournalMemory & Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2014


  • Foreign language learning
  • Rhythm
  • Singing
  • Speaking
  • Verbal memory


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