Foreign Language Learning through Music and Singing: Empirical Results
There is increasing interest in the correlations between musical skills and language skills (Slevc & Miyake, 2006; Fonseca-Mora, Toscano-Fuentes & Wermke, 2011) and the potential of musical stimuli to support language learning and memory (Schön, Boyer, Moreno, Besson, Peretz & Kolinsky, 2008). In this talk, I will present the results of several experimental and classroom-based studies that explored whether listening to songs and singing can support foreign language learning. Experiment 1 investigated whether a 20-phrase, paired-associate (L1-L2) ‘listen-and-repeat’ singing method would result in better overall performance on a range of language tests, compared to learning through a speaking method or a rhythmic speaking method. Results with adult learners showed the highest scores in the listen-and-repeat singing group, which was significant at the p < .05 level for spoken production of phrases in the new language (Ludke, Ferreira & Overy, submitted). Experiment 2 investigated whether listening to the sung phrases was sufficient, or whether a listen-and-repeat learning method is required for the benefit of the melodic stimuli. In this study, pre-existing group differences on several measures of individual differences had a large effect on the results. I will also present the results of two arts intervention studies that explored the effects of incorporating music and singing (vs. the control condition: drama/visual art) into the beginning-level French language curriculum for secondary school students over a period of several weeks. I will conclude by presenting the outcomes of the Comenius project European Music Portfolio: A Creative Way into Languages (EMP-L) which aims to support the teaching and learning of primary music and languages through a flexible, integrated approach (EMP, 2012).