The combination of foreign language lessons with music not only makes learning more diverse and interesting, but also helps to distinguish speech better. Most often, music helps to memorize new words and syntactic forms. Linguists from RUDN University have compiled and tested a language training program with musical elements for preschool children. The results are published in thinking skills and creativity.
There are common elements in teaching music and foreign languages: reading, memorizing, listening and an emotional component. These two processes can be combined to balance the rational and emotional aspects of human experience and thought. RUDN University linguists have proven the effectiveness of a music program for teaching English to preschoolers.
“Music plays a key role in early language acquisition. Music and language processing occur in the same area of the brain, and musical and linguistic syntax can be processed in the same way. Songs teach language systems such as vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. By studying the texts of the words, learners can quickly expand their vocabulary and singing phrases can improve their memorization. Songs can also help students learn paralinguistic and extralinguistic elements, including accents and tones, as well as improve pronunciation and comprehension,” said Doctor of Philology Irina Karabulatova, professor at the Department of Foreign Languages from RUDN University.
22 girls and 20 boys participated in the experiment, their average age was 4.5 years. Linguists tested the children to estimate the level of language comprehension before, during and after lessons. In addition, the researchers conducted interviews with parents and teachers. After 20 weeks of 45-minute lessons, participants who did not know foreign languages before have mastered 51-90% of the training material and learned to answer questions in English.
Scientists added singing, dancing and games to the training program. Participants showed the most noticeable progress after the sixth week of training. At that time, 75% of them had overcome their shyness and fears and showed a marked interest in the language. From 6 to 9 weeks, 80% of the children answered the questions confidently with simple English vocabulary. From week 10 to week 16, teachers expanded vocabulary and introduced new concepts, after which progress slowed down a bit, but with the help of music knowledge continued to grow. About half of the children sang the songs they listened to after class or during a break. At the end of the lessons, almost 100% of the children could follow the teachers’ instructions, even if they did not know how to answer the question. Parents and teachers interviewed noted that it was a new experience for the children.
“The research results may be useful to teachers and language school managers seeking to improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning. It is recommended that educators include creative musical activities in their lessons to break down language barriers, reconnect with students, and make complex educational concepts more accessible and enjoyable. Prospects for future research are the possibility of studying the impact of music on the effectiveness of foreign language learning in children of other ages and adults,” said doctor of philology Irina Karabulatova, professor at the Department of Foreign Languages of RUDN University.