How Music Helps Language Acquisition

Education Week – Jennifer Paterson

“If you think about it, the spoken word has a sort of musicality to it. The way we enunciate, our voice inflection, our word choices, and even the volume and speed at which we speak all have a musical effect. In the scholarly paper “Music and Early Language Acquisition,” researchers sought to prove that in order to speak, people must first have an understanding of music. The authors argue that spoken language should be described as “a special type of music.” By these standards, music is not a superfluous part of life at all; it is necessary to all communication between humans. The researchers go on to point out that our brains process language musically, so there is much to be said of studying music alongside language, and at a very young age.”(more)

Dual Language Programs Grow In Nod to Global Economy

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“Dual immersion programs are becoming increasingly popular in schools across the United States as more educators begin to feel that becoming competitive in the global community could be bring benefits to today’s students. The Alhambra Unified School District (AUSD) in California has been considering various ways to help their students prepare for 21st-century job requirements. The district is planning to introduce a Dual Immersion Program this fall as its most recent initiative to help students prepare for future careers that they believe could take them across the globe. Jim Schofield, program director in the district, called the efforts critical for future job success as the United States continues to do business with other countries, adding that an employee who can speak, read, and write in another language is valued strongly by companies.”(more)

How Music Helps Language Acquisition

Education Week – Jennifer Paterson

“Musicologists and ethnomusicologists know that music is not only an important driving force of a society’s culture, but also a vital piece in the learning process. This is especially true when it comes to language acquisition. Music is a universal factor when it comes to human development and cognition, making it important for learning languages. If you think about it, the spoken word has a sort of musicality to it. The way we enunciate, our voice inflection, our word choices, and even the volume and speed at which we speak all have a musical effect…our brains process language musically, so there is much to be said of studying music alongside language, and at a very young age…According to professor of theory and music composition Anthony Brandt, children as young as newborns have a basic understanding of music…Brandt said that the sounds of language, not the meaning of it, are what infants first learn…newborns can dissect parts of sound like pitch, timbre, and rhythm. Therefore, exposure to music trains babies’ brains for language comprehension and the art of speaking…The connection between music and language acquisition is powerful, so use it.”(more)

Hola! Ever tried learning another language?

The Standard Examiner – Courtney Kendrick

“Students all over the world are taking foreign language classes. Some people might wonder why — after all, it can be difficult and there is often little certainty of whether a knowledge of the language will ever be necessary. However, there are many benefits to learning another language as well. Some students take a foreign language only because a background of language credits is now a requirement at many colleges. But Ashley Peterson, a senior taking French at Ogden High School, has a different reason.”(more)

Press 3 for Chinese?

Matthews Asia – Patricia Huang

“During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Washington last fall, he and President Barack Obama made rather unsurprising pledges to boost bilateral relations—agreeing to advance cooperation over such top issues as cybersecurity, investment treaties and climate change. But there was one relatively small—yet still sweeping—new initiative that caught my attention in particular. This was Obama’s call for a dramatic expansion in Mandarin language learning among U.S. students. Dubbed “1 Million Strong,” this effort aims to increase the number of kindergarten to 12th grade students currently studying Mandarin, from about 200,000 now to 1 million by 2020. “(This) will ensure a greater understanding of China, create a pipeline of China-savvy employees and ensure that students from all walks of life have the skills and opportunities to compete in today’s workforce,” said Carola McGiffert, president of the U.S. nonprofit established to aid this effort…In just the past decade, Chinese early language and immersion programs across the U.S. have grown more than nine-fold, now totaling over 170 programs.”(more)

Op-ed: Keep Utah’s language education momentum going through high school

The Salt Lake Tribune – Johanna Watzinger-Tharp, Ph.D.

“In 2008, with the passage of Senate Bill 41, the state of Utah made a firm commitment to educating its children in the public school system in two languages. Since then, Utah’s Dual Language Immersion Program has grown to include five languages (Chinese, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish) in 138 schools reaching some 29,000 students in grades 1 through 8…Does this work? Can students learn math in Spanish or German or Chinese? Unequivocally, the answer is yes: Students in Utah’s dual immersion programs perform as well or better than their non-immersion peers in core subjects such as language arts and math…Success tends to generate challenges, and Utah’s dual language immersion project faces an urgent one: Students who complete a world language AP course and exam in ninth grade will have no more high school language courses available to them…To bridge the imminent language education gap between 9th grade and enrollment in college, the University of Utah is seeking support from the 2016 Legislature on behalf of a state-wide public and higher education alliance…Now is the time to make sure we don’t squander the opportunity to make our students truly bilingual, biliterate and bicultural global citizens who successfully face the challenges of the 21st century.”(more)