In 2002, a doctoral student, Claudia Smith Salcedo, at the State University of Louisiana wrote a doctoral dissertation on the effect that music and melody have on the retention of foreign language vocabulary. From the abstract:
“This study investigated the effect of music on text recall and involuntary
mental rehearsal (din) with students from four college-level Beginning Spanish
classes. Two groups heard texts as songs, one group heard the same texts as
speech, and one group was the control group. For the text recall variable, a cloze
test was administered at the end of each song treatment to determine total words
recalled. Students from one of the music groups heard the melody of the song
while testing. For the din variable, students were asked to report on the amount of this phenomenon experienced.
Immediate recall of text showed higher scores for the music class in all
three songs…. Delayed text recall showed no significant difference between the classes. There was no advantage observed for the group that heard the background melody during testing.
These findings suggest that the use of songs in the foreign language classroom may aid memory of text. The results evidenced that the occurrence of the din is increased with music, and therefore may be a more efficient way to stimulate language acquisition.”
You can read the entire dissertation HERE.