An Empirical Investigation of the Association between Musical Aptitude and Foreign Language Aptitude  

Abstract Category: Education
Course / Degree: Ph.D.
Institution / University: Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Published in: 2006

Thesis Abstract / Summary:

Given the joint ubiquity of music and language, and pre-theoretic similarities between the two, it is relevant to consider the relationship between musical ability and linguistic ability, specifically in relation to second language acquisition. The specific question of musical aptitude and its relationship to foreign language aptitude is the central focus of this thesis.

In Chapter 2, the dissertation reviews classical and recent research on individual differences, in particular those individual differences which are known to have a major impact on the second language learning process. This review reveals a complex relationship between language aptitude, intelligence and working memory. Chapter 3 examines the relationship between music and other cognitive abilities, focussing primarily on the relationship between music and language ability. This suggests that further analysis of the music-language relationship is indeed justified. From the analysis of past research reported in Chapters 2 and 3, open questions emerge about two important issues: the extent to which music and language aptitude are related, and the extent to which that relationship is mediated by general intelligence.

Empirical investigations are carried out to investigate these issues quantitatively and qualitatively. Phase I of the study examines receptive aptitude in music and language. A sample of 149 subjects completes the Bentley Measures of Musical Aptitude and a language aptitude test based on the Modern Language Aptitude Test, in addition to the Raven Progressive Matrices Test. Phase II of the study examines productive aptitude in music and language. Forty one of the original subjects imitate foreign language words and sentences and short rhythm patterns. Results of both experiments reveal a significant relationship between music and language aptitude, independent of general intelligence. Correlations may be considered small to moderate.

Thesis Keywords/Search Tags:
language, language learning, language aptitude, music, musical aptitude, working memory

This Thesis Abstract may be cited as follows:
Gilleece, Lorraine (2006). An Empirical Investigation of the Association between Musical Aptitude and Foreign Language Aptitude. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Submission Details: Thesis Abstract submitted by Lorraine Gilleece from Ireland on 06-Feb-2006 16:21.
Abstract has been viewed 2412 times (since 7 Mar 2010).

Lorraine Gilleece Contact Details: Email: lorrainegilleece@online.ie

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