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Title: The effect of music therapy on second language acquisition. Correlations between language skills and behavior during music therapy sessions and regular lessons in first and second graders
Issue Date: 31-Mar-2020
Publisher: Università degli studi Roma Tre
Abstract: Background: Music therapy is a therapeutic approach that has shown to have a beneficial effect on communication and inclusion at school. The present study seeks to examine how and why music therapy impacts a child’s ability to learn a second language – specifically in those with a migrant background, whose native language differs to that of the given instruction in school. Method: Six classes of first and second graders (aged 5-8) in multicultural elementary schools participate in the study. From a total of 105 children, 89 had their parents’ consent to participate in the study, of which 87 completed the entire program. The students’ behaviour in regular classroom activity and in music therapy is compared, using Likert scales for misbehaviour, attention, participation and silence. Language skills in Italian are measured by the Italian version of Catherine Renfrew’s Bus Story Test (BST). During analysis, the students’ behaviour is compared in both conditions, using a paired sample t-test. The behaviour is then correlated to the linguistic skills during regular class activity, and music therapy. Results: The comparison of behaviour in class and music therapy indicates that students score significantly higher on misbehaviour and lower on silence in music therapy when compared to regular classroom activity. Furthermore, the BST items correlate with children’s behaviour similarly in music therapy and class, but the effects are statistically significant only in music therapy. When breaking down the population into smaller groups (Native Italian, largest minority group, and other minority groups), outcomes measured are inverted in the largest minority group when correlating linguistic skills and behaviour. Smaller minority groups tend to show similar results as the subgroup of Natives. This trend, however, is the opposite when it comes to the largest minority group, indicating that,contrary to children from Italy or other countries, they tend towards having better performance on the BST when they are louder, more disruptive to the activity, and when the scores on the participation and silence scales are less pronounced (unlike attention, which has shown to be unaffected). These results are not statistically significant due to the insufficient sample size, but the correlations show substantial promise. Conclusion: This study indicates that students’ behaviour in music therapy is different from that in regular classroom activity. This manifests in increased movement, freedom and expressiveness. Consequently, music therapy may influence foremost on students’ communication and relationship-building, leading to an increase in linguistic ability, which has been shown to correlate with behavior in this study. These effects are more pronounced in music therapy than during class, possibly due to the increase in expressiveness. The study also shows that larger minority groups often express themselves differently than Native or smaller minority groups, which allows for insight into dynamics in multicultural classes – and in musical activity. A possible reason for this could be that minority students who are able to speak their own language at school may be less motivated to learn and use the language of instruction, than those who need to learn it in order to make social connections. In conclusion, music therapy has shown signs to allow for more expressiveness – and in consequence, possibly more verbal and/or non-verbal communication. This may be one of the critical factors as to why music therapy has been shown to have beneficial effects on scholastic inclusion and integration,and could be an integral tool to promote inclusion, since it allows for self-expression that transcends the barriers of language
Access Rights: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
Appears in Collections:Dipartimento di Scienze della Formazione
T - Tesi di dottorato

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