Let the Music Speak: Examining the Relationship Between Music and Language Aptitude in Pre-school Children
Research focusing on musical expertise and its relation to language function has gained increasingly more interest in the past decade. Various interdisciplinary investigations focusing on musical expertise and language functions reported positive correlations between both faculties. Evidence, therefore, is mounting that musical abilities (e.g. singing ability and the instrument playing) and working memory capacity are the most important mechanisms for predicting individual differences in imitating, memorizing and repeating unfamiliar (foreign) speech material among adults. Most investigations, however, tested people who were musically trained leading to the fact that educational influence undeniably was impacting the performances of individuals. Thirty-six pre-school children with no training in music and foreign language learning between the ages 5 and 6 were tested for their ability to discriminate paired musical statements (PMMA), their singing ability, their ability to remember strings of numbers and their ability to repeat Turkish a language that was completely unfamiliar to the participants. The results revealed that the participants who performed better in the musicality test also had better results in the imitation tasks and possessed high working memory capacity compared to their peers who scored lower in musicality measurements. It can therefore be concluded that musical expertise and talent for speech imitation are linked in children. It seems to be the case that there are innate factors which predetermine musical expertise and positively affect speech imitation aptitude as well. Moreover, the success rate in language and music acquisition processes can be seen as based on both innate and educational factors.
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