Learning Mandarin Can Make You More Musical


Mandarin is often slated to be one of the most difficult languages in the world. Despite that, its increase in global importance in recent years has made it a language more than worth learning. Mandarin is now the most widely spoken language in the world and has become a vital tongue on the business stage. Knowing Mandarin is definitely guaranteed to put you ahead of the curve when it comes to getting a great job, but that’s not the only benefit this language holds. Read on to discover the surprising advantage of learning Mandarin!


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Hit the high notes

In a recent study carried out with 3-5 year old subjects, researchers tested the musicality of children learning Mandarin Chinese versus children learning English. 180 young kids were tested in areas of pitch and timbre and scientists discovered that while both groups of language learners performed similarly when it came to timbre, Mandarin speakers outperformed English speakers in terms of pitch (or tone). In short, learning Mandarin made them more musical and in tune to tones and pitch!

While this may not seem like much, it can have a remarkable effect on a person’s ability to develop musicality. Acquiring the skill to speak Mandarin can enhance one’s aptitude to sing in key, be in tune with other people, or even simply pick out proper pitch. It looks like learning Mandarin comes with some huge added benefits. It’s like getting two super powers for the price of one, right?


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Carry the tune (or tone)

Experts believe that the connection between Mandarin and music may be partially due to the fact that Mandarin Chinese is a tonal tongue. This means each word has its own tone, which is what conveys intention and meaning when you’re speaking the language. Often, the tone carries more weight than the word itself because you can have the same word but when it’s spoken with different tones it carries varied meanings. An example would be the word ‘ma’. Depending on the pitch used, this word can mean ‘mother’, ‘horse’, or any other number definitions.

If you’ve ever learned Mandarin, you have probably noticed that a huge amount of emphasis is placed on practising the tones. A lot of linguistic attention rests on tones for new learners because pitch is an incredibly important part of the language. Scientists believe that it’s this emphasis on language pitch that gives Mandarin learners the ability to more easily pick out pitch in music too!


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Keep to the beat

While currently the only studies done have been carried out on children, this shouldn’t discourage you from adding Mandarin to your must-learn language roster. Learning a language can be compared to learning a new instrument, and you should approach it with the same discipline you would give to picking up the piano or guitar. While grasping the tonal aspects of Mandarin may be particularly difficult to those who are accustomed to less musical languages like English, with enough practice you can conquer what is arguably one of the most difficult parts of learning this tongue.

And, just because Mandarin may make your little one more musical, it doesn’t mean you should pull them out of those music classes! While being able to speak Mandarin may give them (or you) a slight edge musically, to succeed at music you still have to study it. Perhaps the discipline you acquire from tackling Mandarin will spill over into your music lessons, and vice versa!

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China currently has the second largest economy in the world and has truly become a global powerhouse when it comes to commerce, trade, and business. But you can learn Mandarin for a myriad of other reasons; whether it’s because you want to know more about Chinese culture, or because you hope to someday visit this fascinating country. And you don’t have to leave home to practice your language skills, Mandarin speakers can be found in most major cities and, if all else fails, you can always try them out at your local Chinese restaurant. You definitely can’t go wrong with learning Mandarin these days and, with all the added benefits (like more musicality), it’s a great investment for anyone!

Are you learning Mandarin? How does the tonal nature of the language affect your musical ear? Do you think it makes you more musical?