Talk:Learning style

From Teflpedia

During my teacher-training (very early 1980s) we were told that then-recent research had scotched the idea that people with musical abilities were better foreign-language learners. However, I never got round to checking it out, and would appreciate some pointers, i.e. specific papers, bibliography, which different parts of the brain are involved, etc. Cheers! --Technopat 23:56, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

I remember reading in New Scientist while ago that people who spoke tonal languages such as Chinese make better musicians as they were far more likely to have perfect pitch. But that sorta goes in the other direction.
But "perfect pitch" is a quality you can test for relatively easily and it's also not a surprising ability to find in people who have been making and listening to tones since they could speak.
Testing for "better language learning ability" sounds like a more difficult project. Partly because it's a rather more vague description and partly because the study would need to factor out student motivation, teacher ability, number of hours studied, methodology etc in order to find the "better language learning ability" value. Sounds like a tough bit of research to me.--Bob M 06:38, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanx for that. My own empirical research - based on direct contact with many musicians - suggests that, contrary to popular myths concerning language learning, there is no direct relationship. But I'd like to fall back on scientific evidence, 'cos otherwise it's my word against that of the pedlars of popular myth/preconceived ideas... Cheers! --Technopat 15:00, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree completely. I've got to say though that the idea has got a bit of face validity. It is often said (though I lack sources for this as well) that a third language is easier to learn than a second, a fourth is easier to learn than a third and so on.
One could argue that "music" and a musical instrument represent a particular kind of highly formalised language and extend the metaphor from there. But, as you correctly point out, what is needed is evidence and not speculation. I'll see if I can find anything - though I tend to be a little sceptical of a lot of research of this type.--Bob M 15:31, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Well, this one and this one seem to suggest that music helps. The resources look sorta reliable. What do you make of it? To be honest I've only scanned them but they seem to suggest that music helps. --Bob M 15:36, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Thnx! Couldn't open the first link, but the second one seems to refer more to music in general and language (mother tongue?) in general - an association which I'm pretty sure has been clearly demonstrated. But second-language learning/acquisition works (as in tefl) along different lines... Well aware that the exception proves the rule, I take the case of my Ol' Man, who was a musician - perfect pitch ain't the 'alf of it, and he had zero second-language skills beyond the basic vocabulary acquired through normal travel and exposure to foreign languages. Needless to say his singing and whistling skills were also highly developed, but foreign languages were not... You only have to listen to famous musicians, opera singers and the like speaking, while they might come across as fluent at first sight (?), the reality is that even after having been on the international music scene for decades, they often speak no better than yer average student. Of course, as you rightly point out, given the very vagueness of the task we have taken on as foreign language teachers, the bottom line hovers around questions like 'What do we objectively consider as "fluent"?' and 'How do we measure the speed with which a student learns a foreign language?' --Technopat 14:48, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. Getting some totally objective method of measuring "speed" of language acquisition would seem to be difficult.
On a quite separate point, in your post above my understanding is that the word "prove" in "the exception proves the rule" was originally meant in the sense of "test" - as in the Spanish "probar" today. Consequently the original meaning was "the exception tests the rule"; which meant that if the rule could also successfully explain the exception then it was probably true. --Bob M 12:20, 25 February 2012 (CST)
Edit conflict: amazing coincidence you popping in here! Original message: I had been meaning to get back to this one for a while. Citing the 2nd link above "But there is additional evidence suggesting that music plays an important role in language. Similar areas of the brain are activated when listening to or playing music and speaking or processing language. Language and music are both associated with emotions. And of course, we know that children -- especially small children -- really like music. This study offers another bit of evidence that the link between language and music may be a fundamental one.", I don't doubt it for a moment. But I do doubt its relevance to EFL/ESL learning or teaching. While I would suggest, again based on my own observations, that "artistic" people in general have better language skills than more "scientific" people, beyond the obvious advantages of doing linking and chanting exercises with our students, I just don't see anything in there other than the similarity with gimmicks like "Teach yourself in English with 600 words" or "Learn music the mathematical way". Howsbout putting this up for Debate:Does musical ability influence language learning?? Regs., --Technopat 12:59, 25 February 2012 (CST)