Singing in a foreign language helps people learn to speak it

Singing in a foreign language can help people recall phrases with greater accuracy.

Adults who listened to short Hungarian phrases then sang them back performed better than those who spoke the phrases, researchers at Edinburgh University found.

Three groups of 20 adults took part in a series of five tests as part of a study.

The singing group performed the best in four of the five tests.

In one test, carried out by researchers at the university's Reid School of Music, participants who learned through singing performed twice as well as those who learned by speaking the phrases.

Different structure

Those who learned by singing were also able to recall the Hungarian phrases with greater accuracy in the longer term.

The researchers chose Hungarian because it is unfamiliar to most English speakers and a difficult language to master, with a completely different structure and sound system to the Germanic or Romance languages, such as Spanish and French.

Dr Karen Ludke, who conducted the research as part of her PhD at the University of Edinburgh's institute for music in human and social development, said: "This opens the door for future research in this area.

"One question is whether melody could provide an extra cue to jog people's memory, helping them recall foreign words and phrases more easily."

The study is published in the journal Memory & Cognition.

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