Music in TEFL: From Joint Evolutionary Pathways to Current Integration Issues
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Language and music are two distinct cognitive domains, but seem to possess substantial similarities. This article investigates these similarities from different perspectives and looks at previous research on the topic. First, there is strong evidence on the evolutionary pathways of the two domains to support the claim that both language and music evolved from the same precursor. Language and music also share a number of features at the level of sound and hierarchical structure. Furthermore, they are interrelated in terms of cognition and neurology. Finally, the integration of these two areas has been successfully put forward in education. A number of scholars have reported positive results in their studies and research on the impact of music on the formation of cognitive and language skills in particular, with an emphasis on music as a mnemonic tool. Several didactic trends and theories on distinct learning styles, intelligence and aptitudes also favour a musical approach and discuss the musical learner among other types. Highly applicable benefits of music integration have been noted and extensively reported on in the development of English as a foreign language (EFL), with a focus on pronunciation. This paper also aims to test the influence of music on language acquisition and reports a positive transfer of musical instruction to particular phonetic aspects of English speech among a cohort of international EFL students. The subjects in this group improved their ability to distinguish between and produce rapidly changing target sounds, stresses and vowel reduction when they were treated with music.
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