Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wanna Learn Wolof? Then Sing a Happy (or Sad) Song.

Meet Will, a youngin' with an old soul,
An emcee who wants to be the next to blow.
Imagine: he’s in a dark room in Manhattan,
Scrapping, scribbling on napkins,
Trying to make a living off rapping,
But skills, he lacked them. Nobody thought that it would happen,
Until one day, Will switches his style,
Gets deep, and his wordplay gets witty and wild.
He used to sound so embarrassing,
Now peep all the metaphors and comparisons.
His life is a highway, but he’d confess,
He has a plan but needs a GPS.
He’s using references and allusions,
A lyrical Houdini, creating illusions.
Dolphins in '72 - he won't lose,
Up by the first alarm, he’s not snoozing.

LEARNING to speak English (or any foreign or domestic language) will prove a lot easier if it is sung rather than spoken. Of course, the people at Flocabulary, who are responsible for the above verse, are well aware of this.

The online library (http://www.flocabulary.com/what-is-flocabulary/) is a resource for teachers of K-12 students. It employs rap music as a starting point to facilitate the learning of reading, writing, arithmetic and more.

Archive image.

The verse is the first in a catchy rap song about aspiring emcee, Will. It flows about metaphors, similes, puns and personification. (See video at top). Flocabulary and other proponents of song as a linguistic learning tool have loads of anecdotal evidence that singing can help anybody learn a language faster than speaking it, but they had no science behind it. And often, such findings are suspect until science puts its imprimatur on them.

It's now official. Science has "proved" what much of the nonscientific world has taken for granted for years. Fernanda Ferreira, a psychology professor and psycholinguist at the University of South Carolina, and her team tested the hypothesis on 60 adults.

They reported their findings in the journal "Memory & Cognition" in an article titled, "Singing helps students tune into a foreign language."

Professor Fernanda Ferreira is singing the praises of song as a superior language teaching tool. Archive photo.

Download some Chinese disco to wrangle Mandarin, then! Indeed, see how country music in Wolof grabs you.

The participants were divided into three groups: speaking, rhythmic speaking and singing. They were given listen and repeat exercises in Hungarian, a language chosen because it is esoteric enough that virtually no one would have an unfair advantage.

The group that learned the phrases through singing significantly outperformed the other groups and was twice as successful as the speaking group, surprising FF, but not the University of Edinburgh doctoral student and researcher with whom she worked on the project. Their experiment confirmed the link between music, memory and language proficiency.

"As an experimental psychologist, I was a bit more skeptical,” says FF who as a Portuguese immigrant to Canada grasped the language of her new country in part through learning French songs and who threw rhythmic speaking into the experiment because rhythm transcends music. "Our finding that the singing condition resulted in superior performance on language learning even relative to the rhythmic speaking condition really nailed the claim that singing is uniquely beneficial.”

With that in mind, learning the Pakistani national anthem can help in getting a handle on Farsi, no? (See video above).

Visit http://www.bit.ly/1bXQJ0k to see the "Memory & Cognition" article.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
Based on a work at vevlynspen.com .
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at vevlyn1@yahoo.com .