Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Why Use Music in English Language Learning? A Survey of the Literature

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Why Use Music in English Language Learning? A Survey of the Literature

Article excerpt

Abstract

The use of music and song in the English language-learning classroom is not new. While many teachers intuitively feel that music is beneficial in teaching English language, there is sometimes a lack of the theoretical underpinnings that support such a choice. There are examples in the literature to argue the strong relationship between music and language that are substantiated by research in the fields of cognitive science, anthropology, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, First Language Acquisition (FLA) and Second Language Acquisition (SLA).

Keywords: music, song, English language learning

1. Introduction

The use of music and song in the English language-learning classroom is not new. As early as Bartle (1962), Richards (1969) or Jolly (1975), scholars have been arguing for use of music in a language acquisition context for both its linguistic benefits and for the motivational interest it generates in language learners.

There are examples in the literature to argue the strong relationship between music and language that are substantiated by research in the fields of cognitive science, anthropology, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, First Language Acquisition (FLA) and Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Music had been used on occasion with the Audiolingual Method in language teaching classrooms to reduce the boredom that could occur from repetitive drills from the 1950s through to the 1970s (Bartle, 1962; Kanel, 2000) and later, the use of classical instrumental music was used with the goal to produce a relaxed state of mind that makes the brain receptive to inputs and activates the subconscious in Suggestopedia methodology (Lozanov, 1978; see also Bancroft, 1978). However, it may not have been until Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) and Task Based Learning (TBL) approaches became more pervasive that there was a sudden demand for pedagogical material for the use of songs in the language-learning classroom (Griffee, 2010).

1.1 Why is it Important?

There were two important outcomes from the author's recent research (2010) into effective use of music in the English language classroom (in press). One suggested that there was strong support for use of music in the language-learning classroom, but that there was actually very little occurring in most classrooms. Connected, but a separate issue, implied that while many teachers intuitively felt music was beneficial in teaching English language, there was also the perception that there was a lack of understanding of the theoretical underpinnings that supported such a choice. Therefore, some educators felt unable to defend the decision to champion use of music in the classroom to administrators, business English students or those in a predominantly exam focused environment.

Salcedo (2010), after a survey of foreign language teaching journals, suggests there are "only a few articles on the subject compared to multitudinous articles on other methodological ideas". Other scholars have noted this as well: Coe (1972) stated there have been no controlled music use in the language classroom experiments and Griffee (1989), in an editorial introduction discussing why songs and music aren't used more extensively in the language classroom, suggests there exists a lack of theoretical perspective and empirically based research in the field. I would propose that, while there has been some progress in this subfield, little has changed throughout the past decades.

1.2 Subsections of Literature Review

In this literature review, I will examine academic perspectives from within the field of applied linguistics and will make connections to the field from other disciplines that argue there is a firm empirical, theoretical and pedagogical basis to consider for the use of music as an aid in language acquisition. The examination of the literature will consider the following five categories:

1. Sociological Considerations

2. …

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