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A Review of Research on the Effects of Music upon Second Language Acquisition

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Universal Journal of Educational Research 8(1): 191-201, 2020 http://www.hrpub.org
DOI: 10.13189/ujer.2020.080124
A Review of Research on the Effects of Music upon
Second Language Acquisition
Nur Azmina Zafirah Binti Mohammad Amin, Or-Kan Soh*
School of Language Studies & Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Malaysia
Received November 28, 2019; Revised December 20, 2019; Accepted December 25, 2019
Copyright©2020 by authors, all rights reserved. Authors agree that this article remains permanently open access under
the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License
Abstract Music and songs have been long used as an
attractive approach to enhance the skills in second
language learning. While the majority of the existing
research has been focused mainly on the value of using
music to acquire language skills, researchers have recently
started to delve into its prospective within the educating
development. The qualitative synthesis consists of
qualitative and quantitative research targeted to address the
gaps observed in the literature regarding the integration of
music into pedagogical strategies. There were six main
findings materialized: (a) a fluctuation trend shown in
using music in the pedagogical strategies; (b) the
theoretical and conceptual perspectives of using music to
enhance the skills of the second language; (c) the variation
of perceptions, attitudes and usage patterns; (d) the effects
on integrating music in the pedagogical strategies; (e) the
identified challenges were listed out; and (f) proven
affordances support in using music to second language
learners. The findings were interpreted to determine the
implications on music developments upon second language
learners in the teaching area including the direction
progress for the integration and study.
Keywords Music as a Learning Tool, Second
Language Acquisition, English Language Learners
1. Introduction
Songs have been a part of our lives for as long as we
can remember. Guglielmino (1986) mentioned adults sing
at religious services, bars, in the shower and listen to
songs on the car radio. It has become essential to our lives.
Music is a great language package that bundles culture,
vocabulary, listening, grammar and a host of other
language components in just a few rhymes. Singing songs
not only helps many students remember important
information, but it also makes the classroom learning
livelier (Campbell & Dickinson, 1996). Students who
possess good listening comprehension skills can
participate more effectively in communicative situations
and class (Brown, 2001). According to Peacock (1997),
many writers share the same opinion that learners are
more motivated and stimulated in the foreign language
classroom when authentic materials are used than artificial
non-authentic materials. Orlova (2003), states that there is
a great connection between students' motivation and
authentic materials. It is a very good way to expose the
targeted language to the learners as well as facilitating
their learning. Encouraging language and communication
skills in children under five is an essential part of child
development and music-related play is an excellent way to
accomplish it (Lee, 2004). According to Medina (1993), a
wide variety of useful vocabulary items can be acquired
through popular songs. Using students' favorite songs to
teach vocabulary creates endless opportunities for revision
which is fundamental for storing the information in long
term memory (Murphey, 1992). It can be said that almost
everyone loves music and songs which can be used to not
only lift their mood but also as a tool to aid their language.
For many people from all around the world, the first
exposure to English is through popular song lyrics.
Moreover, the use of music in language classes puts
students at ease, makes them more attentive and can
increase their desire to learn a language (Mishan, 2005).
Music and songs add meaning to people's lives. Music and
lyrics allow people to express their feelings, ideas, and
thoughts. Singing and listening to music has the power to
excite, move, soothe learners and make them feel relaxed
in the language classroom (Abbott, 2002). Songs aid
memory and enhance language learning also, it is easy for
learners to remember new words and phrases through
songs. Many lyrics are known to be repetitive moreover,
many lyrics contain formulaic chunks which are helpful
for learners in future conversation (Meiling, 2007).
According to Lieberstein (1996), teachers can have
different ways to use music in the classroom. They can
192 A Review of Research on the Effects of Music upon Second Language Acquisition
use both background music and lyrics as the basis of a
lesson, but they should know how they can effectively use
music in their English learning classrooms.
The ambiguity of the previous research results suggests
the need to delve further into how music has been used to
enhance the skills in second language acquisition. Thus,
this review aims to improve the understanding of how the
effects of music and songs that are being used in the
pedagogical strategies can create development on second
language learners.
2. Research Questions
There were a lot of advantages, limitations,
effectiveness, challenges, etc. on the past researched
reviewed of music upon second language acquisition.
Within this context the research questions addressed by
this study are:
1. What are the trends in using music in the
pedagogical strategies and the theoretical
perspectives of using music to enhance the skills of
second language?
2. What are the variation of attitudes and the effects on
integrating music in the pedagogical strategies
among second language learners?
3. What are the challenges and proven affordances
support in using music to second language learners?
3. Research Method
According to Burns (1999), the major focus of action
research is on concrete and practical issues of immediate
concern to particular social groups or communities. Given
the methodological diversity of music upon second
language acquisition, this review is a qualitative synthesis
of quantitative and qualitative research. A qualitative
synthesis can be defined as, "systematic efforts of
synthesizing qualitative research" (Suri & Clarke, 2009, p.
401). A literature review and analysis were conducted
covering journal publications from 2001 to 2016.
3.1. Literature Search Strategy
Relevant publications were chosen from Google scholar,
ERIC, Scopus, and Elsevier. Then, the following search
terms were applied in different combinations: music,
second language acquisition, English language learners,
songs, language skills development, YouTube and radio.
Some examples of combinations of these terms include
"Music in second language acquisition", "Music and
language learners", and "Music on language skills". To
ensure the reliability of the publications, the guidelines
from Webster and Watson (2002) were followed to
conduct the literature reviews, where the author suggested
starting with contributions published in leading journals
when identifying relevant literature. Subsequently,
throughout the chosen search tools, 45 articles were
identified. To gain further reliability, search results were
refined by carefully examining all the retrieved articles'
titles, abstracts, and keywords, where the terms are
specifically searched on "music", "second language
acquisition", and "English language learners". The
searched articles using the tools mentioned were about
95% relevant to the initial search terms (e.g., about
learning music or music in the classroom), however, they
were not about learning language through music. Thus,
the articles were excluded. Subsequently, 20 articles were
identified related to the main searched.
The identified 20 articles which are closest related to
the search terms were examined and coded with notations
in an analytic research synthesis table including the
meta-categories of the study of the effects of music upon
second language acquisition, the samples, purpose of the
study, time frame, sample size, and the final findings.
Those notations were included to evaluate the
comparisons among the studies (see table 1).
Universal Journal of Educational Research 8(1): 191-201, 2020 193
Table 1. An analysis of studies on the effects of music upon second language acquisition (n = 20)
Study Subjects Study Purpose Sample Size Country
Fisher, D. (2001). Early Language
Learning
With and Without Music.
Reading Horizons:
A Journal of Literacy and Language
Arts, 42 (1).
The use of
music in
classroom
to determine if the use of music
in primary grade classrooms
resulted in increased literacy
performance of students in
bilingual programs.
80 students (from
kindergartens until
primary) who spoke
Spanish
Spain
Morales Neisa, C. (2008). Using rock
music as a teaching-learning tool.
Profile Issues in Teachers Professional
Development, (9), 163-180.
Rock music
and learning
to explore the teaching/learning
potential rock songs have in
English language lessons with
two adult private students
Three private lessons
with two students Colombia
Beasley, R. E., & Chuang, Y. (2008).
Web-Based Music Study: The Effects
of Listening Repetition, Song
Likeability, and Song Understandability
on EFL Learning Perceptions and
Outcomes. TESL-EJ, 12(2), n2.
Web based
music in the
EFL
classroom
To study if listening to repetition,
song likeability, and/or song
understandability influence the
learning environment
perceptions, learning perceptions,
and/or learning outcomes in
Taiwanese EFL learners that are
engaged in web-based music
study.
196 higher institutions
Taiwanese students. Taiwan
Lee, L. Y. L. (2009). An Empirical
Study on Teaching Urban Young
Children Music and English by
Contrastive Elements of Music and
Songs. Online Submission, 6(3), 28-39
Composing
creative music
and songs with
contrast
elements.
To teach urban young children
music concepts and English by
composing creative music and
songs with contrast elements.
Seven urban young
children aged from three
to four in a Taiwan
kindergarten
Taiwan
Arevalo, E. A. R. (2010). The use of
songs as a tool to work on listening and
culture in EFL classes. Cuadernos de
lingüística hispánica, (15), 121-138.
Music as a
listening tool.
To examines the listening
performance of students
throughout the development of
six workshops based on the
songs: Englishman in New York,
Imagine, Mercedes Benz, Cats in
the cradle, Zombie, and Where is
the love?
This project was carried
out at a university
foundation in Tunja,
Boyacá.
Columbia
Pérez Niño, D. F. (2010). The role of
music in young learners' oral production
in English. Profile Issues in
TeachersProfessional Development,
12(1), 141-157.
Oral
production by
making and
listening to
music
To study how young learners who
study English can develop their
oral production by making and
listening to music
students from 10 to 15
years old in Universidad
Nacional de Colombia, in
Bogotá
Columbia
Abidin, Z., Jafre, M.,
Pour-Mohammadi, M., Singh, B., Kaur,
K., Azman, R., & Souriyavongsa, T.
(2011). The Effectiveness of Using
Songs in YouTube to Improve
Vocabulary Competence among Upper
Secondary School Studies. Theory &
Practice in Language Studies, 1(11).
The use of
songs in
YouTube
To investigate whether learners
exposed to songs using YouTube
would experience a change in
vocabulary competence compared
to those exposed to the traditional
teacher-fronted approach
68 Form Four students
were selected from a
government-run
secondary school located
in Kedah, Malaysia.
Malaysia
Setia, R., Rahim, R. A., Nair, G. K. S.,
Husin, N., Sabapathy, E., Mohamad,
R., ... & Kassim, R. M. (2012). English
songs as means of aiding students'
proficiency development. Asian Social
Science, 8(7), 270.
Use of songs in
teaching
English among
primary
students
to determine the effectiveness of
using songs in teaching English
language to primary school
students.
61 students from a
private primary Islamic
school in Dungun in year
4, year 5, year 6.
Malaysia
Zarei, A. A., & Salimi, A. (2012). The
comparative effects of song, picture and
the keyword method on L2 vocabulary
recognition and production. Applied
Research in English, 1(1), 43-56
Use of song,
picture and
keyword
method
To study the effects of three
methods of vocabulary
presentation, i.e., picture, song,
and the keyword method on
Iranian EFL learners' vocabulary
recognition and production.
102 Iranian
lower-intermediate EFL
learners in Zaban Sara
English language
institute in Kermanshah.
Iran
194 A Review of Research on the Effects of Music upon Second Language Acquisition
Köksal, O., Yağışan, N., & Çekiç, A.
(2013). The effects of music on
achievement, attitude and retention in
primary school English lessons.
Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences,
93, 1897-1900.
Music on
vocabulary
To determine the effect of teaching
English vocabulary to 5th graders
through music on their achievement
in vocabulary, attitudes towards
English course and retention of new
words.
Primary school 5th
grader Turkey
Shabani, M. B., & Torkeh, M. (2014). The
relationship between musical intelligence
and foreign language learning: The case
of Iranian learners of English.
International Journal of Applied
Linguistics and English Literature, 3(3),
26-32.
Musical
intelligence
and language
proficiency
To examined the relationship
between musical intelligence and
foreign language learning
140 Persian native
speakers (100
females, 40 males)
ages 15 to 18
Iran
Moradi, F., & Shahrokhi, M. (2014). The
Effect of Listening to Music on Iranian
Children's Segmental and Suprasegmental
Pronunciation. English Language
Teaching, 7(6), 128-142.
Music in
segmental and
suprasegmental
pronunciation
To find out whether children
learning English by music can
improve their ability in segmental
and suprasegmental pronunciation
or not.
30 female elementary
students with the age
between 9 to 12 years
old were chosen
Iran
Yousefi, A., Yekta, R. R., &
Farahmandian, H. (2014). The Effect of
Modern Lyrical Music on Second
Language Vocabulary Acquisition.
Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences,
5(23), 2583.
Modern lyrical
music
To investigate the effect of music on
second language vocabulary
acquisition and to investigate the
effect of music on long term
retention of vocabulary
sixty girl students of a
junior high school Iran
Abdolmanafi-Rokni, S. J., & Ataee, A. J.
(2014). The effect of background music
on vocabulary recall and retention of
children learning English as a foreign
language. International Journal of Basic
Sciences & Applied Research, 3(8),
491-495.
Background
music in the
classroom
To examine whether addition of
background music in the classroom
would have any effect on Iranian
children’ vocabulary recall and
retention.
34 elementary level
learners from two
classes studying in an
institute in Iran age
from 7 to 11.
Iran
Moradi, M., & Zamanian, M. (2014). On
effect of soft music on learning English
language vocabulary. Theory and Practice
in Language Studies, 4(2), 341.
Soft music on
learning
English
To search whether the use of soft
music during studies improves
student’s learning of English
language words, especially students
learning and memorizing words in
real-life situation
70 male intermediate
EFL learners of
16-20, studying at
Talash Language
Institute (TLI),
Kazeroun branch
Iran
Tse, A. Y. H. (2015). Malaysian teachers'
perspectives on using songs in English
language teaching. International Journal
of Social Science and Humanity, 5(1), 87.
Malaysian ESL
teachers
perspectives on
using songs
To survey the perspectives of
English as a Second Language
(ESL) teachers in Malaysian state
primary schools on using songs to
teach English to young learners
(YLs)
60 Malaysian ESL
primary teachers from
ten primary schools in
Kuantan and
Gambang
Malaysia
Alipour, M., Gorjian, B., & Zafari, I.
(2012). The effects of songs on EFL
learners' vocabulary recall and retention:
The case of gender. Advances in digital
multimedia, 1(3), 140-143.
Songs on
gender
To investigate the effects of songs
on vocabulary learning of
upper-level language learners based
on their gender.
105 male and female
students attending
English in Ahvaz,
Iran 60 males and
females aged from 20
to 32,
Iran
Augustine, C. (2015). How the use of
music and movement impacts the learning
of reading skills by preschoolers.
Malaysian Journal of Music, 4(2), 74-90.
Music and
movement on
reading skills
To assess the effect of music and
movement on the reading skills of
40 five-year-old pre-schoolers at a
university preschool.
Forty preschool
children which are
five-year-old
Malaysia
Rezaei, M., & Ahour, T. (2015). The
Effect of Listening to English Songs on
Iranian EFL Pre-intermediate Learners’
Listening Comprehension. Journal of
English Language Pedagogy and Practice,
8(16), 159-176.
Listening to
English songs
To find out whether listening to
English songs can improve
pre-intermediate EFL learners’
listening comprehension
40 male and female
aged 18 - 28 English
learners from two
classes in an Institute
in Marand, Iran.
Iran
Iman, S. (2016). The effectiveness of
using children's songs in developing
elementary graders' English vocabulary
and pronunciation in Palestine.
Children’s
songs
Investigating the effect of using
children's songs in developing the
elementary graders' vocabulary and
pronunciation
123 EFL students of
the fourth grade; 72
females and 51 males.
Palestine
Universal Journal of Educational Research 8(1): 191-201, 2020 195
4. Findings
Numerous main findings emerged as a result of the
research synthesis selected upon 20 articles on the effects
of using music upon second language acquisition, outlined
below in terms of the trends, theoretical perspectives,
perceptions, attitudes, and usage patterns, benefits,
challenges, and teacher education contexts.
4.1. The Tre n d s on the Effects of Using Music upon
Second Language Acquisition Literature
The articles that were examined are bound within the
period, between 2001 and 2016. As illustrated in Figure 1,
most researched articles were discovered in 2014 (n = 5).
The consistency of using music in the pedagogical
strategies has made researchers showed interest in
broadening their findings. As shown in Table 1, almost 50%
of the research on using music in second language
acquisition was conducted in Iran (n = 8) followed by
Malaysia (n = 4) and Colombia (n = 3). It is especially
noteworthy that other more countries contributed to the
mobile learning research in teacher education in recent
years, such as Taiwan, Spain, Turkey, and Palestine.
Figure 1. Publication trends from 2001 to 2016
The studies that were examined in this review used
several methodologies, with a majority used mixed method.
From the 20 studies, five were conducted within
elementary students, two within kindergarteners, four
within University students, five within secondary students,
one on teacher’s perspective, and three on others such as
gender(n = 1), private lesson (n = 1), various ages (n = 1).
Figure 2. Distribution of studies by subject domain
The articles' research mainly was classified according to
three types: (1) Quantitative research, (2) Qualitative
research or (3) Qualitative research and quantitative data.
majority of the studies were identified as qualitative
research (n = 13) which focuses on applying music in the
pedagogical strategies, while other study was identified as
quantitative research (n = 4) and using both ( n = 3) that
mainly focusing on surveying participants' usage,
perceptions, or attitudes on the use of music in learning the
second language. Data sources included questionnaires,
interviews, blogs, recordings, observations, journals, usage
data, and audio and video transcripts. Music as a tool used
to improve listening was the most common pedagogical
strategy. The use of music to improve vocabulary or oral
production was the most common research has been done
(n = 9), followed by using music for learning (n = 6),
listening (n = 3), reading (n = 1) and others such as
perceptions towards music (n = 1). The studies showed that
the implementation of using music as a pedagogical
strategy showed a large number that illustrated how
language educators' interest in applying music to enhance
language learning skills. The continuously risen genres of
music have made music as one of the crucial elements for
educators to use and it is likely to be used for a long period.
4.2. Theoretical and Conceptual Perspectives
The analysis revealed scant reports of theoretical
perspectives integrated into using music upon second
language acquisition. Among 20 studies, only five are
identified using the theoretical framework to design or
implement research. To create an interesting language
learning environment, Morales (2008) used rock music in
English teaching-learning and identified three features on
how to use rock music as a learning tool upon second
language acquisition. Fornatale (1987) says that two of
rock's primary functions have always been to annoy adults
and to take a poke at the status quo (p. 3). This explains to
some extent the ideological inspiration behind the music
itself: to show society those aspects of reality that are too
harsh to be shown amiably, though music has been
revolutionary in its use of instruments as well. Morales
(2008) emphasized how the use of songs in class may be
useful if it is done in a way in which the song is treated as
something deeper than the entertainment of three to four
minutes. Three features were considered important:
preliminary consideration, the use of music in listening
practices and songs as authentic material. Morales (2008)
also states that the use of songs as a teaching material
requires previous preparation and careful selection of those
songs that want to include in the classes. She added that it
does not mean that just a few songs can be useful for
teaching; instead, a great variety of music is available for
this purpose, though it must remain careful with the
selection. Lopera (2003) considers that the inclusion of
social contexts, the interaction with students' moods, and
the possibility of accessing authentic texts in English are
196 A Review of Research on the Effects of Music upon Second Language Acquisition
important reasons for the inclusion of songs into teaching
contexts. Dubin & Olshtain (1977) consider that the
inclusion of music in English lessons is effective because
"music is a pleasurable outlet…is a good way for students
to relax and feel more at ease in using the new language" (p.
198). Coromina (1993) says rock songs "provide a break
from the textbook and workbook routine" (p. 27). Eken
(1996) says: "These activities provide a relaxed, friendly
and cooperative classroom atmosphere" (p. 47). Also,
Morales (2008) added that listening is regarded as one of
the most difficult aspects in the mastery of the language,
and the material used for this purpose in traditional
teaching is not always the most effective, nor the most
interesting. Other than that, Augustine (2015) comes up
with a theory to promote development language skills to
children which were based on sociocultural theory and the
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) developed by a
Russian lawyer, Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934). Vygotsky
believed that how children think, and their actions are
accomplished through their interactions with adults and
older children. Four basic principles are underlying the
Vygotskian framework: (a) children construct their
knowledge of the world; (b) development occurs within a
social context; (c) learning can lead to development; and (d)
language is important for cognitive development (Greata,
2006; Smidt, 2009). Furthermore, Beasley & Chuang
(2008) support their study based on three main elements:
listening, songs as authentic material and the link between
songs and culture. Beasley & Chuang (2008) stated that
listening is so challenging thus, teachers need to think
carefully about making the activities successful and the
content interesting and motivating activities must be
produced when listening such as using English songs. Thus,
the students will be stimulated and not be frightened or
worried when they are practicing listening, practicing the
rhythm, stress and intonation patterns of the English
language and teaching vocabulary and grammar. Beasley
& Chuang (2008) continue that music can develop listening
comprehension, writing skills, and speaking.
The literature reviewed investigated that some of the
frameworks lack new approaches for the use of music in
the pedagogical strategies upon second language
acquisition. Music can enhance learning skills and is more
effective than the usual teaching method. However, the
lack of framework in the literature reviewed made it hard
for language educators to use as a guide in the pedagogical
strategies. The literature needs to establish theoretical
models that can be used as a guide for language educators
in using music among second language learners. The
models need to present effective strategies so that the
educators can be equipped with methods for integrating
music as a pedagogical strategy.
4.3. Varied Attitudes and Usage Patterns
The survey studies that were conducted with
kindergarten students' results outcomes regarding
perceptions, attitudes, and usage about the effects of music
upon second language acquisition. The outcomes depend
on the variables in the use of music upon educating second
language learners such as the availability and accessibility
of technologies, resources, country infrastructure, and
motivation of the children and educators. Based on Lee
(2009) research, it shows that by using contrastive music
pieces is a good way for teaching very young urban
children to understand music concepts and she added that
by creating simple target objective songs with contrast
elements is a good way for them to learn simple foreign
language concepts. Lee (2009) continued, music with
contrastive elements could motivate urban young children
to do movement spontaneously and learn spoken language
simultaneously. However, a study by Augustine (2015)
shows that music and movement activities impacted
pre-schoolers in their overall reading skills, print
knowledge, and definitional vocabulary after the
intervention, but did not impact on their phonological
awareness skills.
A study conducted on primary students has shown
various results in Kedah, Malaysia by Abidin et al. (2011)
as the results outcomes by using songs on YouTube
resulted that the experimental group had far more
significant improvement in their vocabulary competence as
compared to the control group. They were given more
opportunities to work independently in the target language
as opposed to the control group. The control group, on the
other hand, went through the traditional teacher-fronted
approach and was given a limited opportunity for
interaction. With this, the use of YouTube can improve
vocabulary competence among secondary school students
and is indeed an interesting and effective method. Another
study on primary students by Setia et al. (2012) was
conducted in Dungun, Terengganu resulted that majority of
the subjects agreed that using songs to learn English is an
effective tool in acquiring vocabulary and improving
pronunciation. They added that If the students are exposed
to songs which they enjoy, more meaningful learning is
likely to occur since they may also find and listen to the
music outside of the classroom. Also, the repetitive style of
songs then helps to promote the automatization of
colloquial language. Continue to another study by Köksal,
Yağışan, & Çekiç (2013) shows how music affects primary
students in the 5th grader. The result of the study indicates
that teaching new vocabulary through music has
significantly increased achievement in English vocabulary
learning, attitudes towards English course and retention of
a new vocabulary of the students in the experimental group
compared to the control group. Besides, research by
Moradi, & Shahrokhi (2014) on Iranian students resulted
that by using music the experimental group outperformed
the control group in segmental articulation, including the
pronunciation of vowels, consonants, diphthongs, and
triphthongs. Subsequently, a study by Abdolmanafi &
Ataee (2014) among 17 students in primary schools
Universal Journal of Educational Research 8(1): 191-201, 2020 197
resulted that by listening to background music had positive
effects on the learners' paying attention to the teacher. The
results showed that listening to background music had a
significantly positive effect on the learners' vocabulary
development compared to the learners that were not
exposed to background music.
Studies among secondary school students that use music
to learn the second language showed various results. Pérez
(2010) from the findings he stated that by using music in
the classroom the children enjoyed doing listening
activities like filling in the blanks and discussing the whole
meaning of the songs as well as the unknown vocabulary
they found. He added, musical instruments were useful to
explain to students some important concepts related to
music such as the specific features about the appearance
and sound of each one of these instruments. Other than that,
research by Shabani & Torkeh (2014) results findings that
inclusion of music program in the learning of foreign
language classroom can have benefits such as providing
smoothing condition, stimulating creative process,
increasing students' motivation for learning, activating
linguistic information stored in the memory, helping
students to concentrate and connect with their inner self,
and improving writing, reading, listening, and speaking
skills in language learning process. Yousefi et al (2014)
stated from their findings the music group outperformed
the no-music group both in short- and long-term retention.
The results show that music has a positive effect on
vocabulary acquisition. Evidence shows that music
benefits rote memorization when various types of verbal
information (e.g., multiplication tables, spelling lists) have
been presented with music, memorization has been
enhanced. Findings from the study of Rezaei & Ahour
(2015) resulted that although there was no significant
difference in the listening comprehension of the
experimental and control groups in the pretest, there was a
significant difference between both groups' mean scores at
the end of the study in the posttest, implying a better
performance of the experimental group in which the songs
were used to boost their listening comprehension.
For higher institutions students there are several studies
conducted and the outcomes were various. Beasley &
Chuang (2008) a study on Web-Based Music Study among
Taiwanese students resulted that songs are the most
suitable type of authentic material to develop listening
comprehension. This is because students feel motivated
when working with this kind of material; furthermore,
learners' ages and social contexts fit with the kind of music
we select to work in class. Continuously, research in the
institute of Kermanshah among Iranian students resulted
that indicate that the keyword method had a significant
effect on both vocabulary recognition and production,
compared with the song. Also, the students instructed
through picture had the best performance in both
vocabulary recognition and production (Zarei & Salimi,
2012). Subsequently, research by Arevalo (2010) stated
that through songs students become familiar with the
pronunciation of native speakers, and they also provide
topics for discussion. He added understanding the language
and culture students are learning through songs is much
more attractive for them.
Based on this review of the scant report, the validity and
reliability issues in the survey studies are identified and
there were only three studies recognized to describe using a
pilot test. With this limited information on the issues, it
makes it difficult to compare all the questionnaires from
the studies collected. Thus, the research on this is would be
beneficial to discuss the methods use and are more detailed
about the context used to investigate the use of music upon
second language acquisition.
4.4. The Effects on Integrating Music in the
Pedagogical Strategies among Second Language
Learners
Based on past studies and the literature on using music
upon second language acquisition, the majority of the
studies resulted that music is one of the most beneficial
learning tools to enhance language learning. There are
various of encouraging factors for integration of music into
kindergarteners to learn the language, such as by
composing creative music and songs with contrast
elements also motivates young children to do movement
spontaneously and learn the spoken language
simultaneously (Lee, 2009). Using music and movement
impacts the learning of reading skills (Augustine, 2015).
Other studies that researched the use of music in the
pedagogical strategy's majority reported positive impacts
on the outcomes studied. Music is acknowledged to be
essentials in helping language educators mostly to develop
language skills and enhance it (Fisher, 2001). Real Texts
and Promoters of Students' Interests along with the
interconnection of skills and motivates young children to
do movement spontaneously and learn the spoken language
simultaneously (Morales, 2008).
Researched studies among primary students receive
positive impacts and give advantages that add to the
growing database and suggest that musical listening
activities do influence literacy development (Fisher, 2001).
Continuously, it helps the understanding and it also
stimulates and increases the students' interest to learn,
enjoy and engage in the learning process along accelerating
students' confidence, learning ability and skill when
activities are highly motivating and memorable (Setia et al.,
2012). Also, teaching new vocabulary through music has
significantly increased achievement in English vocabulary
learning, attitudes towards English course and retention of
a new vocabulary of the students (Köksal et al., 2013)
music significantly has a positive effect on children's
pronunciation (Moradi, & Shahrokhi, 2014). Continuously,
background music improved vocabulary recall and
retention better also creates a positive effect on young
198 A Review of Research on the Effects of Music upon Second Language Acquisition
learners' motivation in language learning and their paying
attention to the teacher.
Furthermore, advantages and benefits shown in studies
among secondary and higher institution students such as
the understanding of the language and culture that the
students are learning through songs are much more
attractive for them (Arevalo, 2010). Musical instruments
were useful to explain to students some important concepts
related to music such as the specific features about the
appearance and sound of each one of these instruments
(Pérez, 2010). The students instructed through pictures and
music had the best performance in both vocabulary
recognition and production (Zarei & Salimi, 2012). Other
advantages are musical intelligence significantly correlates
with learning a foreign language and it may facilitate the
learning of foreign languages (Shabani & Torkeh, 2014).
Evidence shows that music benefits rote memorization
when various types of verbal information (e.g,
multiplication tables, spelling lists) have been presented
with music, memorization has been enhanced (Yousefi &
Farahmandian, 2014). Also, integrating soft music into an
education classroom has beneficial qualities and the data
collected indicates that students had positive behavior,
during learning and memorizing words while they were
listening to soft music (Moradi & Zamanian, 2014).
4.5. Scant Report of Challenges
This area of research synthesis has revealed that the
studies have mainly emphasized the benefits of using
music in learning the second language without detailing its
shortcomings. Regrettably, music is not emphasized in the
Malaysian government preschools, as music teachers lack
the appropriate knowledge and teaching skills. With that,
there were several challenges faced by the researchers on
the studies that are related to the use of music in the
pedagogical strategies upon second language acquisition
such as ways in which teachers infused music into their
literacy instruction (Fisher, 2001). The methods cannot
follow the traditional way in which the teacher is in front of
her/his students, writing several structures on the
blackboard but must be another strategic way also teaching
a foreign language is not just about teaching structures; this
is only one step of a big process which is why more
interesting way need to be improved (Pérez, 2010).
The songs that are being used should be carefully
selected to suit the students' abilities and the lyrics should
be clear and the vocabulary in the songs should be
appropriate to the students' proficiency levels (Setia et al.,
2012). Continuously, the disadvantage and the challenges
are that learning English as a foreign language is a
demanding task for the majority of Iranian learners and
sometimes, is boring and tedious to them which requires
motivation and interest. For enhancing learning a foreign
language, creating low anxiety and stress levels is a
necessary condition that can be satisfied by inserting
musical instructions (Shabani & Torkeh, 2014). Another
concern is that in order to improve students' segmental
articulation (including the pronunciation of vowels,
consonants, diphthongs, and triphthongs) and
suprasegmental articulation (including stress pattern and
intonation) many methods have been used for teaching
pronunciation, but they were not conclusive and
completely successful (Moradi & Shahrokhi, 2014).
As for the educator's perceptions, they had difficulties in
selecting songs and the recommendation is to provide them
with interesting and enjoyable song materials for their
classes ( Tse, 2015). The use of music in the classroom
should be in a long-term intervention which would
probably have a better impact because a short-term of six
weeks produced a progressive result on pre-schoolers'
reading skills (Augustine, 2015). Continuously, teaching
EFL, especially for young learners, involves using creative
and motivating methodologies and techniques. Students
may have problems in learning vocabulary and
pronunciation Furthermore, the students have poor
pronunciation and lack of vocabulary competence as the
Palestinian English Curriculum (English for Palestine) has
a limited number of songs, games, and projects (Dajani &
Mclaughlin, 2009). Subsequently, challenges that are often
faced by EFL educators are that they should exercise care
in the song selection process. As there is a relation between
song likeability, enjoyment of the learning environment,
motivation for learning, and achievement, thus, EFL
educators should select songs that students will like
(Beasley & Chuang, 2008).
4.6. The Proven Affordances Support on the Effects of
Using Music in Pedagogical Strategies among
Second Language Learners
The studies revealed approaches with different goals
based on the audience in the analysis of using music to
second language learners. Four groups have been targeted
and participated in the studies: kindergarteners, primary
students, secondary students, and higher institutions
students.
4.6.1. Effects on Integrating Music in Kindergarten
Language Learning
The studies were conducted in the context of projects
that include kindergarteners as a participant of the studies.
Results from the research synthesis revealed that there
were many advantages from using music inside the
education system among kindergarteners: motivate young
children to do movement spontaneously, Contrastive music
in pre-classical music learning, music and movement
impacted upon the reading skills.
In a famous study (Rauscher, Shaw & Ky, 1995), it was
found that listening to music that is complex would help to
elevate scores on a concurrent test of spatial reasoning. The
works of Mozart were used and after listening, students'
Universal Journal of Educational Research 8(1): 191-201, 2020 199
scores on a spatial reasoning test were eight points higher.
The use of creative music pieces of contrast and song
activities has made progressive for children in the
kindergarten in improving their English ability (Lee, 2009).
As Gardner (1992) wrote, "the single most important thing
in education is for each person to find at least one thing that
he/she connects to, gets excited by, feels motivated to
spend more time with." For many children, music is that
thing. Studies have also shown the connections music
makes between thinking, learning, and emotions (Davies,
2000). Furthermore, integrating music into children's daily
activities promotes literacy development, particularly with
English language learners. Music is acknowledged to be
the best tool to help improve in learning other languages.
Other samples of using music among children in
kindergarten have to be done by using music to study the
awareness of reading among pre-schoolers (Augustine,
2015). Music can transform a classroom into a positive
learning environment where children can succeed
academically, socially, and emotionally. Besides,
integrating music into children's daily activities promotes
literacy development, particularly with English language
learners (Ahmad et al., 2008).
4.6.2. The Effects of Music among Primary Second
Language Learners' Students
Based on the 20 studies, there are 5 studies focuses on
using music as a pedagogical strategy in learning the
second language. There were many advantages arises from
using music among primary students: stimulates the
students' interest to learn, enjoy and engage in the learning
process, accelerates students' confidence, increase learning
ability and skill.
One of the ways to achieve the mastery of English is by
using songs. A song is a form of language that uses tones
and rhythm as it is also the media of universal language.
According to Peacock (1997), many writers share the same
opinion that learners are more motivated and stimulated in
the foreign language classroom when authentic materials
are used than artificial non-authentic materials. Coromina
(2010), defends that a good song can prompt an interesting
discussion in class. When students enjoy learning English
through songs, they will indirectly make the effort to learn
the lyrics of the songs they are listening to. A study was
done by Köksal, Yağışan, & Çekiç, (2013) resulted that
new vocabulary through music has significantly increased
achievement in English vocabulary learning, attitudes
towards English course and retention of a new vocabulary
of the students in the experimental group. Using music in
learning language enables learners to open all memory
channels and information encoded in different memory
systems is remembered more easily as it can be retrieved
from any possible memory system. This can also be
understood from the fact that students who can store new
vocabulary in different components of memory are the
effects of the music.
Continuously, the use of media has been chosen to teach
pronunciation to children. Music changes brain waves and
makes the brain more active and receptive to leaning
(Moradi & Shahrokhi, 2014). The study using several
instruments including the placement test, the pre-test, the
post-test, voice recorder, and the book Song Time 3
resulted that it helps children to learn pronunciation like
native speakers and students' pronunciation skill was
improved after teaching and learning activity by using
songs, the songs were good tools to teach pronunciation as
a part of language.
Another study by Abdolmanafi & Ataee (2014) in using
Mozart Sonata (K.448, as used by Rauscher et al., 1993) as
a background music and A DVD-player to broadcast the
music along with the tape recorder to tape-record the
participants' responses were conducted and the results were
seen that the vocabulary recall and retention are much then
before on the participants. Moreover, the background
music had a positive effect on young learners' motivation in
language learning and their paying attention to the teacher.
4.6.3. The Effects of Music Used as a Learning Tool among
Secondary School Students
Five studies from the previous studies were identified to
research secondary school students. By using music as a
pedagogical strategy for the high school students, it has
resulted in various positive results such as there is
familiarity on the pronunciation of native speakers,
increase performance in both vocabulary recognition and
production, promotes memorization and various types of
verbal information.
A study from Arevalo (2010), by experimenting
listening performance of students throughout the
development of six workshops based on the songs:
Englishman in New York, Imagine, Mercedes Benz, Cats
in the cradle, Zombie, and Where is the love? outcomes
that the students can foster listening skills and engage in
discussions about cultural and social issues. Likewise,
results show that practicing listening with songs can
become a good way to train students in the development of
higher levels of comprehension. Furthermore, using songs
from YouTube has shown advantages in teaching the
second language to the secondary students. YouTube is
famously known as an internet video search website (USA
Today, 2006). Kelsey (2010) defines it as a website where
you can upload and share videos. Participants were seen to
be very enthusiastic in the lessons as they enjoyed listening
to songs projected using the YouTube website and the
reviews of using YouTube to improve the vocabulary
competence among secondary school students is indeed an
interesting and effective method (Setia et al., 2012).
Overall, this review has shown how the effects of music
used among second language acquisition in secondary
school students can enhance their learning skills. The use
of music among the students aims to improve their learning
abilities in second language acquisition.
200 A Review of Research on the Effects of Music upon Second Language Acquisition
4.6.4. Effects of Music among Higher Institutions Students
Among 20 research studies, only four were identified
done research on university students. The outcomes of
using music resulted that it can develop listening
comprehension, they can memorize significantly better and
more while accompanying with soft music.
"Soft Music stabilizes mental, physical, and emotional
rhythms to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in
which large amounts of content information can be
processed and learned (Brewer, 2005). Moradi &
Zamanian (2014) stated that by using soft music as a piece
of background music has shown positive results such as
music improves and influences the student's learning of
English words. It also indicates that students had positive
behavior, during learning and memorizing words while
they were listening to soft music. Besides, it also creates a
positive experience for students, promoted attention,
positive attitude, and created a pleasant learning
atmosphere. Continuously, by using English songs can be
effective in the blended teaching-learning situations where
teachers integrate both the traditional and modern ways of
teaching listening through, for example, podcasts, blogs,
etc. The integration of songs in the classroom settings can
provide a variety to the might- be a boring atmosphere of
the traditional classes, so, it can motivate the students and
increase their interest in learning (Alipour, Gorjian, &
Zafari, 2012).
Overall, this review has shown how the effects of music
used among second language acquisition in the higher
institutions can enhance their learning skills. The use of
music among higher institutions students aims to improve
their learning abilities in the second language acquisition.
5. Recommendations for Future
Research
This systematic review presents numbers of critical of
critical recommendations for those who plan to investigate
the advantages of using music in teaching second language
learners.
5.1. Conducted a Sample with a Bigger Size
By using sample with a bigger participant, it could help
to obtain more data, confirm the findings and enable the
drawing of a more concrete conclusion regarding the
effects of using songs to improve vocabulary competence.
In addition, a longer experimental period is needed to
enable the researcher to identify more valid conclusion and
to see whether the improvements are consistent.
5.2. Pursue a Research that Investigates the Effect of
Using Songs in Developing Learners Writing Skills
By doing a research using music to develop learner’s
writing skills, researchers could identify on how music
affects a person’s writing and its cognitive connection.
5.3. The Ministry of Education, Curriculum Designers
and Decision Makers Should Enrich English in the
Country
They should provide schools with modern and important
materials that help in the use of songs in classes and they
should motivate language educators to develop their
competences especially in using songs.
5.4. Conduct a Research Related to the Learner's
Attitudes or Perceptions towards Using the Songs
in Language Learning
A study should not only be conducted on the subject
without their perception towards what is being
implemented on them. Thus, recommendation for the
future research, a study on the student’s perception itself
ought to be done in order to identified further explanation
on which way of using music that are more effective and
suitable with them.
5.5. Conduct a Research on Comparative Study
between Male and Female Language Educators to
Examine Specific Teaching Method to Improve
Learner's Proficiency in the Language
The research should not only be focusing on the
student’s; the way how music affects their learning but it
has to be done on the educators itself too. The reason is
that to identified weather there is a difference in the
teaching method between the genders of the educators.
6. Conclusions
Based on this systematic review of 20 articles on the
effects of music upon second language acquisition has
shown interest in music among researchers and language
educators but there is a lack of synthesis in the context of
student's perceptions towards using music as a learning
tool. The findings are described as well as the approaches
and the strategies on implementing music in the
pedagogical strategies. Initial, this review showed that the
number of studies has shown fluctuations in studies
research over the year, with contributions from researchers
all over the world. This trend has shown consistency along
with the review of the new findings on the effects of music
upon second language acquisition. Next, the scant report of
the theoretical and conceptual perspectives was reported in
this review. Moreover, this survey of studies has revealed
the perceptions, attitudes and usage patterns among
language educators on second language learners are
diverse. Continuously, the benefits and advantages of using
Universal Journal of Educational Research 8(1): 191-201, 2020 201
music among second language acquisition have been
drawn on the review. Subsequently, along with benefits,
the challenges and issues were also jotted down in the
review to balance the survey. Ultimately, the points from
several pedagogical affordances support on the use of
music in pedagogical strategies were illustrated. As time
passes by, more language educators begin to understand
the essentials in integrating music in the pedagogical
strategies thus, raising awareness on how important it is in
student's learning behavior. This study has presented
findings and recommendations to help other researchers
and language educators along with theoretical models to
suggest new methods on how to integrate music into
pedagogical strategies.
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... Along with its music, songs can be used in learning English, since it consists of several units of the language that the students need to learn. Amin and Soh (2020) defined music as an excellent package of varying culture, lexical, grammatical structures, listening, as well as in accommodating other units in language through its rhymes. Singing songs, particularly, does not only advocates students to remember important information contained in its lyrics but also has been proven to present a livelier studying environment for English language learners even before the 2000s, as mentioned by Amin and Soh (2020). ...
... Amin and Soh (2020) defined music as an excellent package of varying culture, lexical, grammatical structures, listening, as well as in accommodating other units in language through its rhymes. Singing songs, particularly, does not only advocates students to remember important information contained in its lyrics but also has been proven to present a livelier studying environment for English language learners even before the 2000s, as mentioned by Amin and Soh (2020). It is also mentioned that involving songs in such classes is a great way of exposing learners to the targeted language as well as facilitating the learning process. ...
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