|dc.description.abstract||This research investigates the potential of a music intervention to develop musicality and oracy in primary school aged students with English is an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). The research inquired: 1) what is the effect of a music intervention on the musicality of students with EAL/D; and 2) what is the effect of a music intervention on the level of oracy (verbal fluency, prosody and pronunciation) of students with EAL/D.
Music and speech are both auditory forms of communication, and neuroscientific research indicates that there are common processing mechanisms between them (Moreno, 2009; Patel, 2008). As a result, past research has continued to draw upon music and music pedagogy to explore its ability to develop other cognitive domains. The prevalence of music and its similarities to particular oracy skills further encouraged the use of music to investigate its potential to develop the verbal fluency, prosody, and pronunciation for students with EAL/D.
Australia’s immigration rates have continued to increase, in which 20% to 25% of school students have English as an additional language or dialect (Commonwealth of Australia, 2016a; Hammond, 2014). The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority ([ACARA], 2014b) notes that students with EAL/D are seen to struggle with aspects of oracy, and are expected to meaningfully communicate in spoken English for a variety of social and academic purposes. Although Australian teachers have access to a variety of curriculum documents, these documents do not outline specific strategies for teachers of students with EAL/D to assist in the development of their verbal fluency, prosody and pronunciation. Therefore, this research attempted to do so through the implementation of an eight-week music intervention that drew upon the principles of audiation from Gordon’s Music Learning Theory (The Gordon Institute for Music Learning [GIML], 2017a). The principles of audiation from Gordon’s Music Learning theory were used in this intervention due to the focus on pitch and rhythm. This focus would allow students to develop tonal and rhythmic vocabularies, and thus assist in their ability to audiate, or to hear sounds in their heads.
The implementation of this music intervention reflected the pragmatic nature of this research as it aimed to investigate music’s potential to develop three specific oracy skills for students with EAL/D: verbal fluency, prosody, and pronunciation. A single-subject experimental design (SSED) methodology was employed as it allowed the individual reporting of student participant results. Results from qualitative and quantitative data indicated that all students demonstrated improvements in their level of musicality after their participation in the music intervention to varying degrees. All participants were noted as having increased levels of pronunciation, but only five of the six participants improved their level of prosody post-intervention. No significant improvements could be reported for students’ verbal fluency. Results indicated there is the potential for this music intervention to develop prosody and pronunciation for students with EAL/D. Although these positive results were obtained, further research is needed over an extended period of time to investigate the full extent of music’s influence on these skills and additional areas within other cognitive domains.
Additional results from semi-structured interviews and observations indicated all students demonstrated an increase in their confidence, motivation and engagement, and that the music intervention facilitated the development of relationships between peers and staff. Previous research found that music is an engaging tool that alleviates the anxiety associated with language learning (Ara, 2009; Fonseca-Mora, Toscano-Fuentes, & Wermke, 2011). It can be suggested that potential correlations exist between confidence, motivation and engagement and the development of their prosody and pronunciation, as it encouraged students to take risks and experiment with their verbal communication in the English language, in turn influencing the facilitation of relationships. Further research into this area would be needed, however, to confirm or refute these suggested correlations.
Results from this research revealed there is potential for this music intervention to develop specific oracy skills for students with EAL/D, particularly prosody and pronunciation. This research may assist primary school teachers in developing specific strategies to target and develop verbal fluency, prosody, and pronunciation for students with EAL/D. Additionally, this research adds to the growing body of knowledge around the benefits of music developing skills in other cognitive domains.||