The Effects of Learning English by Singing: A Case Study

By Chun-lin Luo.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It has been reported that learning English by singing is an interesting and effective way (Baker, 2007; Calvert and others, 1993; Hamner, 2003; Lems, 2002; Shih, 1980), but a systematic investigation on its effects of learning English seems to be lacking. The researcher conducted a quantitative study (sponsored by Providence University) in 2008 to discover the effects. 20 college students in Taiwan participated in the study. 10 of them were in the prose group and the other half ‘learned English by singing’. Ten English songs were chosen (Always, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, She, Memories, Dream, Yesterday Once More, On Top of the World, Let it Be, Trouble Sleeping, and Fernando) and were rewritten into the prose form by two Americans. At the beginning of the study, all of the subjects took pretests of listening comprehension (on the levels of sentences, dialogues, and paragraphs) and an oral test (of 1 minute impromptu speech with 2 minutes preparation on a given topic). Then, the prose group studied English paragraphs with the same content as the 10 English songs, introduced to the ‘singing’ group, with lyrics explained. After these 10 weeks, all of the subjects took posttests (the same listening comprehension test, the same format of oral test on a different topic, and a cloze achievement test). The test scores did not support the general belief that learning by singing is more effective. That is, in the song group the differences between pre-tests and post-tests were not significant except for the listening tests, but in the prose group the difference was significant. These results showed that the prose group instead of the song group made significant progress. The implication of this study goes parallel with that of Calvert et al. (1993); i.e. singing with little effort leads to limited information processing. For further in-depth investigation, a qualitative study is proposed. A questionnaire and an interview are conducted to the students participating in the 2008 project. Analyses between the two groups and their reflection, and pedagogical implication are provided.

Keywords: Singing, Prose, Quantitative, Qualitative

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 9, pp.15-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.286MB).

Dr. Chun-lin Luo

Associate Professor (now serving as the Chairperson), Department of English Language, Literature, and Linguistics, Providence University, Sha-lu, Taiwan

She got her MA at the Linguistics Department of State University of New York at Buffalo and her Ph.D. at the Linguistic Track of English Department of National Taiwan Normal University. Her research interests include phonetics, psycholinguistics, and applied linguistics. She has taught English for 3 years in a senior high school and 20 years in the English department at Providence University in Taiwan. The courses she has been teaching these recent years include graduate-- Psycholinguistics, Second Language Acquisition, and under—Introduction to Linguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, Teaching English Pronunciation, Teaching English Vocabulary and Grammar, and Oral Training (I). In addition, she has served as the chairperson of the department for the past three academic years.

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