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Want to learn a foreign language? Sing in it, researchers say

COLUMBIA, S.C., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say their study confirms a long-held assumption that singing in a foreign language can improve a person's ability to learn that language.

"It's an important finding," University of South Carolina psychology Professor Fernanda Ferreira said. "Learning a language can be difficult, and yet with increasing internationalization and globalization, it is becoming more and more important for people to be able to communicate in more than one language."

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In the journal Memory & Cognition, the researchers describe their study in which 60 adults were split among three groups: speaking, rhythmic speaking and singing.

Each group was given 20 short "listen and repeat" phrases in Hungarian, chosen because of its unfamiliarity to the participants and because of its distinct differences from better-known Romance (Spanish or French) or Germanic (German or Dutch) languages.

The group who learned the phrases through singing significantly outperformed the other groups and was twice as successful as the speaking group, demonstrating the link between music, memory and language learning, a university release reported Tuesday.

"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," Ferreira said.

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"Anything we can figure out about how to make language learning easier is potentially very useful," she said.

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