Classical music and studying a foreign language

I am partial because I like classical music. However, I noticed that when I study a foreign language with classical music in the background, I can focus better. I think everyone believes they have a level of ADD (attention deficit disorder) and if you are one of those people, then try studying to classical music. Now a lot has been written about listening to Mozart and the Mozart effect, some say Bach, for me Gregorian Chants work the best when trying to learn and I want something to help me stay focused.

I also had life long learning problems in school which I was able to over come I believe by studying to classical music. A lot of my learning problems might have been environmental as we had a lot of conflict in my house, yet I also believe I have some genetic learning disabilities because they are manifest in my relatives. Regardless I graduated top of my class, and classical music was my escape and my solace.

Music will help you study, that is a fact, which I have tested over many years.

How to fine tune your brain’s gears to music

I think the music you need depends on how much your brain needs to be slowed down or sped up to be able to focus. A lot is about brainwaves and staying is about tethering your brains to be in a deep alpha state of frequency. For example here are some tests, if you do best when you listen to:

  • Mozart being the fastest, means you focus pretty well, but your brain could need to increase the speed of your brainwaves a bit. The mood boast helps from listening to upbeat music also.
  • Baroque music is slower and your brain focuses OK but needs helps being brought back to your study once in a while. This is more a normalizer as your brainwaves might fluctuate between beta and theta too much.
  • Chants the slowest, this is me. I think my brain functions at a fairly high cognitive speed, but needs to be slow down needs to be put in first gear, if you will to be able to focus.

So for me to sit and study a foreign language for any period of time without me getting bored I need to be lulled into a clam relaxed stated with Gregorian chants. For me this significantly helps my ability to study. Many sites make super learning claims, I am not doing that. I am saying this works for me. I could get into the brainwave theories etc, but I would rather convey anecdotal evidence of what helps me learn a language. If anyone has any other experiences with other types of music please let me know.

  • This post goes one step further than tell you to listen to music while you are learning. I am a teacher of languages and I have a trick that really boast academic performance, read on.
Brainwaves are brought into harmony and knowledge retention efficiency improved to soothing orchestral and vocal music.

Music and learning a foreign language

If you’re an orchestral fan you are in luck, classical music, whether you like listening to angel trumpets or devil trombones, or serene muse  like sirens of the violin section it will stimulate your brain to make it more receptive to learn a language. What is your favorite genre of classical music? Do you like the Glorious 9th or the dark tones of Debussy?

The good news is it does not matter what type of classical music you like, you have an edge over your hip hop loving classmates. Here I will tell you why. What do you do? Study then go to the Opera? No need to this post tells you a specific method for learning with classical music.

  1. The first way to learn with music is to sing to it. Even if you have not pitch and stink if you can sing your vocabulary you are trying to learn, you will learn it.
  2. The next of course is study with the music on. Some brain experts say you can not focus on two things at once, so music is a distraction. That is nonsense because there is something called working memory.
  3. The best method is listen to classical music after almost as a form of meditation. Even though it might be the hardest because no one has time to relax, I recommend listening to classical music after you study. Why after not before or during? Some people like to do this before or during. However, I recommend that you study first in silence and then relax or in a prone position listen to about twenty minutes of classical music, while the information you just learned sinks in your Brain. I believe this helps memory formation and retention. You can do this based on the number of songs lets say seven songs rather than a timer. I also use something called ‘free countdown timer’ on my computer to measure this time also.

If you did this you would experience a significant increase in the rate you learn a foreign language.

Pathways are built-in milliseconds. Imagine that you are watching a time-lapsephotoof a new plant sprouting, this is your brain learning. However, you have to water and enrich this environment. That is where classical music comes in. There are studies that confirm classical music and brain wave tools enhance learning.

  • is what I listen to as my radio station of choice.

Classical music helps language learning because it:

  1. Calms you – Soothes the mind, always good for getting new information in.
  2. Rhythmic processing – Prepares the brain to get in sync rhythmically with learning
  3. brainwaves learning – Puts the brain in an alpha to theta state depending on the type of music you are listening to when studying. For example, Gregorian chants or any chants are theta even delta, while baroque music is more conducive for producing an alpha state.
  4. Mood to study – Puts you in a good mood so you can study longer, do not get bored and can endure the pain of sitting still.
  5. Right and left hemispheres activated – Helps unify your brain’s right and left hemisphere so you have a more holistic learning experience.
  6. Brings more of you brains online – When you can bring more remote regions of your brain into play you have more cross neuron-connections built. When you have enriched  neuron-connections you have more neutral pathways your brain can access when trying to retrieve a word. Memory is usually a retrieval problem, rather than a formation problem.
  7. Teaches you about culture – Why not listen to composers of the country you intent to learn from? If you want to learn Italian, listen to Italian composers like Rossini. If German is your target language why not tune into a little Ludwig van or Mozart. If you are a guy, when you get to Europe a lot of the women will be impressed you know about their heritage.
  8. Vocabulary – Opera although less comprehensible verbally than pop music, if you are into it has value to learn some vocabulary. Even a word a day helps.
  9. Voice or Instruments? – It does not matter. I know one fan who would only listen to music composed exclusively to instrumentation. While I am partial to the human voice. I can not imagine someone not loving the human voice and the range of pitches and tones it can produce.
  10. Score of musical composition – Is analogous to writing and in a sense a language in itself, but considered a universal language even animals can relate and react to. It is like it opens a door in your brain for receptiveness that does beyond the stimulation of the ear.
  11. Vocabulary sticks – It makes verbal sounds stick to your brain in ways we do not understand.
  12. Placebo effect – It is known generally that classical music and its complex constructions bring the brain to a higher plane. You just feel smarter, because of the reputations that classical and ancient music connoisseurs have. Therefore, it might have a bit of a placebo effect going.
  13. Screens out background noise – The more you hear from earphones or speakers adjective to you the greater probability background noises are drowned out. I often use earplugs when there is noise like a lawn mower in the background, then turn up the music.
  14. Classical music define is broad – I am not an elitist that defines classical music as anything written in Europe and codified from 1550 to 1900. I think classical music could have been written in India or China in two millennium ago.

Because the medium of using classical music is always connected to technology, unless you live next to a classical music hall, I would ironically classify this type of learning as technology and accelerated learning.

  •     Dr. George Lazanov – I read about years ago in a book called super learning. Basically you do not have to get so technique as he did who make a science out of it. Just listen to music.
  •     Dr. Roy J. Paget advocates music to aid learning more than a tutor. Music’s tonalities and patterns facilitates learning.
  •     Kelly Howell also asserts a connection between brain waves, music and learning. She was popular in the 1990s.
  •     Here is example of a study that suggests a causal link between classical music and studying.
  •     You can also look at the Mozart effect (Don Campbell).
  •     Alfred A. Tomatis research and what we termed audio-psycho-phonology is worth looking at.

Basically this type of accelerated learning was in vogue before the Internet and people used their brain with technology in a way that was more traditional. Now I have seen less research or at least it has been squelched out by other forms of technology and the learning.

Is new age music classical music? Is folk music classical music? Although not formally I would say these can help learning. Anything that does not mess with you in erratic sound patterns. Let me know your personal experiences with learning and music

This is a technique of listening after you study, will increase your ability to learn a language. It does not cost anything, however, it is effective for second language acquisition.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

2 thoughts on “Classical music and studying a foreign language”

  1. If you listen to classical music while studying, you can master that language in a month. AND remember it after 4 years.

    1. I do not know if that one month is enough. However, when I listen to Chopin or other classics when working and studying it seems to help with attention and memory retention.

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