Using music education to improve children’s grammar skills

A study by Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is the first of its kind to show a connection between musical rhythm and grammar. It suggests that a child’s ability to distinguish musical rhythm is related to his or her capacity for understanding grammar.

Reyna Gordon, Ph.D., lead author and research fellow in the Department of Otolaryngology at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, studied 25 typically-developing six-year-olds. All were native speakers of English with less than two years of formal music training, with parents reporting that their child had normal hearing, language, cognitive, and emotional development.

The first test was a standardised test of music aptitude. A computer programme prompted the children to judge if two melodies (which were either identical or slightly different) were the same or different.

Next, the children played a computer game that the research team developed called a beat-based assessment. The children watched a cartoon character play two rhythms, then had to determine whether a third rhythm was played by “Sammy Same” or “Doggy Different.”

To measure the children’s grammar skills, they were shown a variety of photographs and asked questions about them. They were measured on the grammatical accuracy of their answers, such as competence in using the past tense.

Though the grammatical and musical tests were quite different, Gordon found that children who did well on one kind tended to do well on the other, regardless of IQ, music experience and socioeconomic status.

SOURCES:
Vanderbilt University: https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/10/30/researchers-explore-links-between-grammar-rhythm/
Science Daily: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141105101238.htm
Wiley Online Library: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/desc.12230/abstract;jsessionid=827154C613FE7F59764343B3B5892A5C.f02t02

DETAILS:

BENEFIT: LANGUAGE SKILLS
TARGET GROUP: CHILDREN
AGE: 6-YEARS-OLD
MUSIC TYPE: GENERAL
TYPE OF STUDY: ACADEMIC RESEARCH
NOs INVOLVED: 25
PERIOD OF STUDY: UNKNOWN
DATE: 2014
PLACE: USA

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