Does Listening to Music Count as Studying?

I love Japanese music: the variety, the energy, and the creativity.  The best part about using music to learn Japanese is it is incredibly fun.  No matter what your level is, you can fully enjoy Japanese music.  You can listen to Japanese music for hours and probably not get tired.  You never get frustrated with it, because even if you don’t understand most of the lyrics, the music itself is still great.

What could be wrong with such a great study source?

First, I completely disregard minor problems like lyrics using improper grammar, differences from spoken Japanese, and pitch and tone that isn’t natural in ordinary conversations.  This doesn’t pose a problem since it is similar to the way that the Japanese found in anime is slightly different.

The real problem is that you often listen to music without focusing on the words.  This is especially true when you can’t understand most of the lyrics.  This can happen despite your current level.  Remember that music is enjoyable without knowing the lyrics even in your own language.  The result is you think you just studied for a few hours by listening to Japanese songs, but really were only listening to about 1% of the lyrics.

There are creative solutions to solve this like finding the lyrics and practicing them before you listen to the music.  I was never a big fan of looking up lyrics to learn a song.  If you are, that is great, go ahead.  This would be a great way to increase the efficiency of using Japanese songs.

The best solution is just listen in moderation.  Listening to music most definitely counts as studying, but it is not ranked as a top study material due to the significant problem mentioned above.  However, the motivation it can give provide in your studies is too powerful to ignore, so absolutely make sure it is included in your immersion.



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Adam

Adam

Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.

Comments

Does Listening to Music Count as Studying? — 6 Comments

  1. I’m starting to understand how we really learn languages. Through fun media.
    I’ll tell you my story(just bare with me for a bit)
    I found AJATT, after taking a level one jp course in college at night. I thought that taking classes would lead me to fluency, but man was I wrong. I only got serious in the summer(been 1 year and 6 months so far of learning)
    AJATT,srsing has changed my mind on learning languages. As of now I don’t really have much problems with listening/reading the language. Now I’m working on getting my writing/speaking skills up to my other skills so far.

    I have 3 decks I use daily. 1 vocab, 1 sentence deck and 1 production deck(active recall of kanji via kana and small sentences, via kana as well.)
    Vocab for introducing new words/names I get from context (some are single words but I’ve been using my sentence deck for 5 months more than my vocab deck. My vocab deck is at 1.1. years and my sentence deck is at 1.6 years so far.). My vocab deck contains words that contain more than 1 kanji(so two kanji or more, because having only 1 kanji, usual associates so much readings. But I treat them as different cards and also let my sentence/reading correct how to read it in the right context)

    Vocab increased my listening skills/reading/recognizing kanji flawlessly in random context. While my sentence deck provided context.

    I only recently started using my production deck(Only been 2 months so far, I actually used to use this a while back, but I deleted as it was taking too long. Now I’m back but with a different perspective/slower on the adding, 20 new per day)

    I was worried that I would gain speaking/writing skills as well as my other skills. But I now know that, fun is the way to go. We learn more by having fun learning. So watching movies,reading interesting stuff we enjoy/doing stuff in the language we enjoy(playing games,hanging out with friends,etc)

    I’m confident that I’ll get fluent in all skills in the 3-5 year mark. I don’t see why not with my determination.

  2. Another comment and the last one for today. Whenever I go on forms(jp ones) and news sites/read novels,etc. There’s always vocab/kanji that I see. But lucky, with the srs, this isn’t scary anymore. If I just keep going, I’ll gain that 99% mark for recognizing(no such thing as 100%, because we can’t know everything). Heck in English there’s so much I don’t know. And probably won’t know. We keep learning, it’s a never ending process. But fluency and native-level is possible in another language. It just takes time and fun to get there.

  3. I learned most of my english from mtv shows and by translating lyrics of my favorite songs.
    And it works just the same in Japanese, I occasionally look up words I don’t know while listening to japanese music and by listening again and again I can recall the vocab easily.
    Also I gotta say when I started studying japanese, the first semester I had no problems remembering vocabulary, mainly because words sounded just right after listening to japanese music for years as well as watching japanese tv shows (variety & drama and sometimes anime). While I got all the vocab by reading through it a few times, some of my friends who didn’t watch and listen to as much japanese stuff I did had a tough time.

  4. I have several songs that I like well enough to listen to ~50+ times and several times in a row, and have learned a lot from listening to them over and over again (especially because I usually have them stuck in my head for hours afterwards). Sometimes I actually get the opposite problem, because I’m trying to pay attention to the words and end up not doing what I was meaning to do while listening to music!

  5. Adshap,
    The big problem you’re talking about here and the fact you say it is a problem kind of contrasts with what I’ve read here these past two days about immersion which supposedly benefits you even if you don’t understand any of the words being spoken or even if you don’t pay attention to it and do other things with it in the background.

    I figure that learning the words of the song (one time actively) and then listening to it a million time would be as beneficial as all the other material you watch actively and then passively.

    No?

    • You are correct that the message of this site is that immersion benefits you even if you don’t understand most of the words and even if you are not focusing on it.

      Music also falls into this category, but the reason why I don’t think it ranks as high as other immersion sources is because

      1) With music, even if you never learn a single word of the song, you can still fully enjoy it. With all other passive listening (TV, movies, etc), as you learn more words, you’re appreciation of the material increases exponentially.

      2) It is often much harder to understand what they are saying in music, despite what level you are. As I said, this happens in your own native language. This means if you listened passively to a song 100 times or you listened passively to a drama 10 times, you are more likely to pick up and remember more language from the drama you listened to 10 times.

      But remember, even with its downsides compared to other sources, it is still part of a healthy immersion environment.

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