Songs as an aid for language acquisition

  • Schön D
  • Boyer M
  • Moreno S
 et al. 
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In previous research, Saffran and colleagues [Saffran, J. R., Aslin, R. N., & Newport, E. L. (1996). Statistical learning by 8-month-old infants. Science, 274, 1926-1928; Saffran, J. R., Newport, E. L., & Aslin, R. N. (1996). Word segmentation: The role of distributional cues. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 606-621.] have shown that adults and infants can use the statistical properties of syllable sequences to extract words from continuous speech. They also showed that a similar learning mechanism operates with musical stimuli [Saffran, J. R., Johnson, R. E. K., Aslin, N., & Newport, E. L. (1999). Abstract Statistical learning of tone sequences by human infants and adults. Cognition, 70, 27-52.]. In this work we combined linguistic and musical information and we compared language learning based on speech sequences to language learning based on sung sequences. We hypothesized that, compared to speech sequences, a consistent mapping of linguistic and musical information would enhance learning. Results confirmed the hypothesis showing a strong learning facilitation of song compared to speech. Most importantly, the present results show that learning a new language, especially in the first learning phase wherein one needs to segment new words, may largely benefit of the motivational and structuring properties of music in song. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Language
  • Music
  • Song
  • Statistical learning

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