Language Matters: Learning Vocab from Hip-Hop

“While the mad skillz you learn in school may be nuthin’ but a grind, one researcher is giving hella props to hip-hop rhymes for helping boyz and girlz learn language big time.” (ABC News, 22 Dec 2011)

The more rap that kids and teens listen to, the more non-mainstream hip-hop words they know, according to a new study.

Sounds obvious, right?

The difference is that most vocabulary learning studies are done with infants and very young children, and this study is one of the few looking at how adolescents continue to learn language as they get older.

Two factors that probably spur this linguistic development are prevalent in hip-hop music: melody and rhyme.  Both make song lyrics — which can include new words as well as context clues to their meanings — easier to memorize.

The next step?  Intentionally placing new words in hip-hop songs and having experimental participants listen to them to see if they pick up the words and their meanings more quickly than by traditional studying.

It certainly sounds like more fun than staring at a vocabulary worksheet.

Flocabulary takes advantage of the memory-jogging qualities of beat and rhyme to create raps that teach vocab.  Check out their new beat about the Year in Rap 2011 for everything you need to know about the big news from last year.

Do you listen to hip-hop or rap music?  What words have you learned simply from listening to song lyrics?

Language Matters: Learning a Truly ‘Alien’ Language

A language from another world is helping one man live with his dyslexia.

Klingon, the fictional language created for the Star Trek TV shows and movies, isn’t just a bunch of strange-sounding words strung together to sound like an alien language.  It is actually a complete language with its own grammar and usage rules.

Spoken by Klingons, like this impressive individual.

A man called Jonathan Brown has spent twelve years learning the language, in spite of his dyslexia and “name blindness,” which he describes as an inability to remember the names of things.

The process of learning the language has helped him to manage his dyslexia.  How?

Memorizing the words and helping to translate the language onto a CD for others to use helped him figure out a different way to learn words.

Instead of putting the words in the “name” part of his brain (which doesn’t work), he used a different part, which enabled him to keep the words in his long-term memory.

Do you know of any other kinds of unexpected benefits to learning another language?