The Effect of the Incorporation of Music Learning into the Second-Language Classroom on the Mutual Reinforcement of Music and Language

Lowe, A.S. (1995). The Effect of the Incorporation of Music Learning into the Second-Language Classroom on the Mutual Reinforcement of Music and Language (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database. (UMI No. 9624420)

Abstract:

This study examines the effect of a music program integrated into Canadian second grade French immersion classes on music and second language learning. The quasi-experimental study compared treatment students to comparison students on academic achievement, French proficiency, tonal-rhythmic patterns, and music forms before and after the intervention. The intervention included eight weeks of 15-minute daily music instruction integrated into the French language class. Analyses found treatment students performed better on composite French and music post-tests when controlling for pretest scores and academic achievement in French and mathematics.

Key Findings:

  • Treatment students performed better on composite French and music posttests when pretest scores and academic achievement in math and French were held constant.
  • French subtest analyses revealed treatment students performed better on oral grammar and reading comprehension.
  • Music subtest analyses showed that treatment students performed better on Rhythmic/Pattern Perform and Form/Describe (written) tests.

Significance of the Findings:

The integration of music instruction along with language instruction many enhance students’ learning in both subject areas.

Methodology:

The researcher conducted a two-week pilot before running the actual study over a three-month period. The pilot, which was conducted with a class of French immersion students not at the study school, gathered data on program feasibility and instrument validity.

The primary study compared treatment (n=27) and comparison (n=20) students. Both sets of students were from different classrooms at the same school. Before program implementation, all students took an academic achievement test, a composite French (oral grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, and reading comprehension) assessment and a composite music assessment (tonal-rhythmic pattern and form). After the eight-week program, all students took French and music assessments again. Inter-rater reliability was established for those scoring all of the assessments. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), correlation, and analysis of variance (ANOVA) were used to examine the assessment data. Throughout the study, the treatment teacher kept a journal of observations and participated in interviews.

Limitations of the Research:

Participants were not randomly assigned into the treatment and comparison groups. The researcher created the assessments she administered to participating students in collaboration with the French and music teachers. While the instruments were piloted, some students in the study had difficulty with the reading level of a few instruments, which may limit the validity of the assessments and resulting outcomes. Additionally, the researcher did not measure student reading levels as a possible confounding factor.

Questions to Guide New Research:

How effective is music integration for helping native English speakers learn tonal languages? Would the integration of music support learning of second languages beyond French, such as learning English or Spanish as a second language?