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Musical Intelligence and Its Impact on English Pronunciation Skills in the Process of Second Language Acquisition

by Ewa Kusz (Author)
Monographs 232 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1 Musical Intelligence and the Theory of Multiple Intelligences
  • 1.1 The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
  • 1.1.1 Linguistic Intelligence
  • 1.1.2 Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
  • 1.1.3 Spatial Intelligence
  • 1.1.4 Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence
  • 1.1.5 Interpersonal Intelligence
  • 1.1.6 Intrapersonal Intelligence
  • 1.1.7 Naturalist Intelligence
  • 1.2 Musical Intelligence
  • 1.2.1 The Relationship between Musical and Some Other Intelligences
  • 1.2.1.1 Musical Intelligence and Linguistic Intelligence
  • 1.2.1.2 Musical Intelligence and Bodily-Kinaesthetic Intelligence
  • 1.2.1.3 Musical Intelligence and Spatial Intelligence
  • 1.2.1.4 Musical Intelligence and Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
  • 1.3 Criticism of the Theory of Musical Intelligences
  • 1.4 Measuring Musical Intelligence
  • 1.4.1 Seashore’s Measures of Musical Talents
  • 1.4.2 Gordon’s Measure of Music Audiation16
  • 1.4.3 Wing’s Standardised Tests of Musical Intelligence
  • 1.5 Musical Intelligence and Second Language Acquisition (SLA)
  • 1.5.1 Music Training and Second Language Acquisition
  • 1.5.2 Music Aptitude and Second Language Acquisition
  • Summary
  • 2 Literature Review and Research Methodology
  • 2.1 State of Research and Theoretical Assumptions
  • 2.2 Assessment of Speaking
  • 2.2.1 Rating Scale and Scale Description
  • 2.3 Automatic Measurement of L2 Pronunciation Skills
  • 2.3.1 Speech Rate
  • 2.3.2 Articulation Rate
  • 2.3.3 Average Syllable Duration
  • 2.3.4 Pausing (Pause Duration)
  • 2.3.5 Fundamental Frequency (F0)59
  • 2.4 Research Questions and Hypotheses
  • 2.5 Methodology
  • 2.5.1 Participants
  • 2.5.2 Instrumentation
  • 2.5.2.1 Musical Intelligence Test
  • 2.5.2.2 Praat
  • 2.5.2.3 Audacity
  • 2.5.2.4 Pronunciation Test
  • 2.5.3 Experimental Procedure
  • 3 Research Results
  • 3.1 Wing’s Musical Intelligence Test Results
  • 3.1.1 The Results of Task One
  • 3.1.2 The Results of Task Two
  • 3.1.3 The Results of Task Three
  • 3.1.4 The Results of Wing’s Musical Intelligence Test – Summary
  • 3.2 Norms for the Polish Version of Wing’s Musical Intelligence Test Results
  • 3.3 Wing’s Intelligence Musical Test – Data Distribution for Low, Medium and High Levels
  • 3.4 Pronunciation Test Results – Native Speakers’ Assessment of Students’ Utterances
  • 3.5 The Results of Automatic Measurement of L2 Pronunciation Proficiency with the Use of Praat
  • 3.5.1 Statistical Analysis and Testing of Normal Distribution for the Pronunciation Test Results Obtained from Praat
  • 3.5.1.1 Statistical Results of F0 Range Difference
  • 3.5.1.2 Statistical Results of Speech Rate Difference
  • 3.5.1.3 Statistical Results of Articulation Rate Difference
  • 3.5.1.4 Statistical Results of Average Syllable Duration (ASD) Difference
  • 3.5.1.5 Statistical Results of Pause Duration Difference
  • 3.5.1.6 Average and Median Analysis for all Variables
  • 3.5.2 Variance Check for Variables Obtained from Praat
  • 3.5.3 Non-Parametric Test Results (Kruskal-Wallis Test)
  • 3.5.4 Parametric Test Results (ANOVA)
  • 3.6 The Explanation of the Student’s Level of Musical Intelligence with the Use of Pronunciation Test Results (Native Speakers’ Assessment and Praat)
  • Summary
  • 4 Discussion
  • 4.1 The Convergence between the Level of Musical Intelligence and the Results of L2 Pronunciation Ability Test
  • 4.2 Pronunciation Test Results in the Light of Native Speakers’ Assessment
  • 4.3 Pronunciation Test Results in the Light of F0 Range, Speech Rate, Articulation Rate, Average Syllable Duration, Pause Duration Variables
  • 4.4 The Convergence between the Variables of F0 Range, Speech Rate, Articulation Rate, Average Syllable Duration, Pause Duration
  • 4.5 Hypothesis 1
  • 4.6 Hypothesis 2
  • 4.7 Hypothesis 3
  • Conclusions
  • Appendices
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • References
  • Internet sources

Introduction

The claim that intelligent behaviour achieves its highest level in human beings has been made by scholars, including philosophers and psychologists, of every year. Intelligence, as well as the above-mentioned intelligent behaviour, are distinctive features which vary across individuals. Moreover, the concept of human intellect shows great variability in its understanding among times, culture and societies. While the idea of an intelligent person is intuitively perceived by laypeople as someone smart and who has high IQ level (especially in Western culture), comprehension of the term “intelligence” is highly challenging in the scientific world. Hence, there are a large number of theories that have attempted to clarify this notion. The strong need to define the concept of “intelligence” started in antiquity, whereas the first ideas of objective measures of human intellect emerged at the end of the 19th century, when Alfred Binet (1857–1911) attempted to establish the types of cognitive abilities that could separate the normal children from the abnormal, and to measure such differences.

As a matter of fact, there are various perspectives with regard to the nature of intelligence and the ways it should be addressed. It is possible to distinguish at least two types of approaches: first, there are researchers who believe that there is such a thing as “general intelligence” or, in other words, one unified and general factor that may be defined as the core of human intellect, as it influences intelligent performance. This theory was firstly proposed by the psychologist Charles Spearman (1863–1945) who observed that there was a positive correlation between various intelligence tests that attempted to investigate cognitive skills. Thus, he suggested that it is possible to experimentally measure intelligence as a general cognitive ability.

On the other hand, there are scholars who perceive intelligence as a wide variety of skills and attitudes that make individuals differ from one another in their ability to comprehend complex ideas, to learn new things or to adapt effectively to the environment. On the basis of the above, this group of researchers believe that it is possible to observe completely different and independent types of intelligences. One of the first scholars who proposed that intelligence should not be considered as a general ability but rather as a set of abilities was Thurstone (1938). It was also Gardner (1983), the father of the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI), who strongly criticised the ideas presented by psychometricians, including Spearman’s theory of general intelligence. As Rota ←11 | 12→and Reiterer (2009:85) underline when they explain Gardner’s approach, “[…] people are naturally predisposed to develop some skills instead of others, and they encounter less difficulty when they learn certain types of information as opposed to others.” Gardner’s conceptualisation identifies core abilities (known as types of intelligences) that enable individuals to cope with everyday life situations. These are, for example, musical, linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, interpersonal and kinaesthetic intelligences, etc.

This study focuses mainly on the concept of musical intelligence as a part of human intellect that may be naturally relevant to second/foreign language acquisition, as there is a strong link between music and language. When one is concerned with the measurement of musical intelligence, a series of fundamental questions arise: Is musical intelligence a unitary ability or multi-dimensional one? If yes, how many sub-components constitute it? Is musical intelligence normally distributed in the population or is it rather ‘all-or-none’ ability? Are there groups of people who are more musically intelligent than others? Is it possible to distinguish factors that enable us to measure musical intelligence?

It is with these questions in mind (and many others that will be revealed later) that the present study has been projected and written. This will help to make the reader aware of the complexity of the concept of musical intelligence and its measurement. Since some of the questions formulated above clearly reach beyond language, it should not come as a surprise that this work, while adopting the interdependence between musical intelligence and L2 pronunciation proficiency as its primary object of research, will attempt to incorporate a number of phenomena which are usually associated with other disciplines, such as psychology, psycholinguistics, statistics and even philosophy.

The following study has the objective of providing a comprehensive examination of the convergence between musical intelligence and pronunciation ability of a second language from various perspectives. On the one hand, it considers psychological influences of musical intelligence on L2 pronunciation talent, but most importantly it has the objective of finding general insights into the nature of both musical intelligence and L2 pronunciation skills, and it intends to explore more specific interactions between the examined parameters that may have an impact on the above-mentioned relationship.

Thus, it is an arduous process to carry out studies in the research field of musical intelligence and its impact on SLA, especially in terms of L2 pronunciation ability. This is partly because it is difficult to state whether this specific aspect of second language acquisition is influenced by such cognitive psychological constructs as intelligence or whether it is merely language specific in nature (Hu and Reiterer 2009). Additionally, the complexity of selecting the appropriate ←12 | 13→measurement approach, as well as measurement instruments, has been very challenging, as was the fact that various combinations of the selected measures often provide mixed results, which may cause problems in the correct interpretation of the findings.

Bearing the above in mind, the present work has been divided into four chapters. The first intends to provide a detailed description of the theory of Multiple Intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner (1983, 1996) with particular reference to musical intelligence which, according to the founder of the theory, “allows people to create, communicate, and understand meanings made out of sound” (1996:205). This chapter also constitutes an attempt at describing the relationship between musical intelligence and other intelligences in order to relate this type of human intellect to broader contexts. Additionally, this part of the study is largely concerned with the issue of measuring musical intelligence, thus the most popular musical intelligence tests (Seashore’s, Wing’s and Gordon’s) are reviewed. The last two subsections of the first chapter delve into the relationship between musical intelligence and the process of second language acquisition, especially in terms of pronunciation skills. It must be mentioned that there are some unforeseen challenges in describing L2 pronunciation assessment due to the piecemeal contributions of individual researchers on the one hand, and a strong need to develop toward acceptance of the inevitability of the use of automated speech recognition technology on the other (see e.g. Isaacs 2016). Chapter 2 presents a literature review regarding the convergence between musical intelligence and second language pronunciation skills, as well as the assessment of speaking. A detailed description of the prosodic features1 of speaker accentedness is the “prelude” to the methodology of this research, which provides information on the number of participants, the types of instruments utilised in the study and finally the experimental procedure. Among a number of areas of phonetic research, the third chapter, Research results, takes into consideration some of the most problematic issues, including the convergence between musical intelligence and pronunciation skills, and secondly, the assessment of pronunciation. The first part of this chapter focuses mainly on the results obtained from Wing’s musical intelligence test, whereas the second pays attention to the outcomes of the pronunciation test (measured both by three independent native speakers and by Praat). Last but not least, ←13 | 14→Chapter 4 delves into a detailed discussion and a comprehensive interpretation of the obtained results and empirical contributions which will confirm or refute the relationship between the level of musical intelligence and L2 pronunciation ability.

←14 | 15→

1 Prosodic features of language appear in the process of putting sounds together in connected speech. They describe variations in pitch, tempo, rhythm, and loudness of the sounds. These features are all involved in stress, intonation, and rhythm.

1 Musical Intelligence and the Theory of Multiple Intelligences

The present chapter constitutes an attempt at providing a detailed description of Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, paying special attention to the phenomenon of musical intelligence. Thus, the guiding question is: Is musical intelligence exceptional? Gardner (1996:29) believes that music plays an important role in intellectual development, yet he also states that intelligence is not an autonomous thought in one’s mind but rather an interaction between potentials in the head and opportunities that do or do not exist in the culture (1996:26).

Chapter 1 also takes into consideration the issue of musical intelligence or more precisely, several concepts related to this type of intelligence, its relation to other types of intelligence and its definition. Musicality, musical talent, musical aptitude, musical ability or musical giftedness are just some examples how musical intelligence is defined. As Nardo and Reiterer (2009:213) note, “it is very tricky to provide a single and simple definition of (musical) talent […] because [it] depends on both the theoretical and empirical context of a given author.” The term musicality was first provided by Révész (1953) who attempted to emphasise the ability to enjoy music aesthetically (see Nardo and Reiterer 2009). Conversely, Reimer (2003) highlighted the importance of the term musical intelligence, as it provides a cognitive approach and avoids the use of confusing terms such as skill, talent or ability. As he admits, there are a large number of aspects which allow one to decide whether an individual is musically intelligent or not. On the basis of that, we focus on the definition of musical intelligence specified by Howard Gardner, as he includes all of the fundamental characteristics2 of so-called musicality on which most authors agree. Subsequently, the relations between musical intelligence and other intelligences are described in detail, as well as the issue of musical intelligence measurement. Finally, we attempt to find common ground for music and language in order to emphasise the importance of musical training and musical intelligence in the process of second language acquisition.

←15 | 16→

1.1 The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Gardner’s vision, first presented in his work Frames of Mind in 1983, is grounded in the tradition of Socrates, John Dewey and John Henry Cardinal Newman, as well as “the reality that modern educational systems reside within increasingly multi-ethic and technologically driven societies” (Gardner 2006:23). Gardner strongly believes that it is of crucial importance to broaden definitions of human intellect. He disagrees with the traditional model which prioritises logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligences. Hence, Gardner’s definition of intelligence is “the ability to solve problems or fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community” (Gardner 1993c:15).

It is also worth mentioning ideas proposed by D. Allan Allport, a British experimental psychologist, who claims that the human mind “is best thought of as a large number of independent production systems, which are computational units that operate in parallel and are each specifically keyed to and activated by a certain kind of information” (as cited in Gardner 1983:297). Although Allport’s assumption presents much finer units of information than the intelligences given by Gardner, it is possible to find many similarities between these two theories. For instance, like Gardner, he conducts his research on the basis of the breakdown of mental abilities following brain injuries.

Jerry Fodor is another scholar who focuses his studies on the modularity of mind. According to him, such mental processes in the human brain can be defined as independent modules which operate according to their own rules and exhibit their own processes (see Gardner 1983:298). He claims that the detailed description and identification of each of the modules is the task of empirical psychology, hence the modules reflect different sensory systems.

Another authority who sympathises with the modular assumptions is Zenon Pylyshyn, who claims that it is important to differentiate impenetrable processes from penetrable ones. Impenetrable processes are impervious to information from other sensory systems, whereas penetrable ones are influenced by goals, beliefs, suggestions and other forms of information (Gardner 1983:299).

Parting from the classical view of intelligence, Gardner proposes eight intelligences, although his original presentation enumerated only seven. Instead of basing his theory on traditional factor analysis, he uses eight criteria, namely (1) potential isolation by brain damage, (2) the existence of idiot savants, prodigies and other exceptional individuals, (3) an identifiable core operation or set of operations, (4) a distinctive development history, (5) an evolutionary history and plausibility, (6) support from experimental psychological tasks, (7) support ←16 | 17→from psychometric findings, (8) susceptibility to encoding in a symbol system3 (Kaufman et al. 2012:5).

Conversely to the traditional psychometric approach, which focuses on the implicit question: “[w];hat are the cognitive abilities underlying a good IQ score”, Gardner attempts to answer an explicit one: “[w]hat are the cognitive abilities that ultimately enable human beings to perform the range of adult roles (or “end states”) found across cultures” (Gardner 2006:21). With this question in mind, Gardner analyses a large number of scientific, sociological and sociolinguistic works. As a result, he concludes that each type of intelligence specialises in a different cognitive domain, namely: linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. Also, it is worth noting that Gardner’s theory (see 1999a, 1999b) does not exclude the possibility of additional intelligences4:

Gardner (1983:70) perceives the intelligences he enumerates as “potentially useful scientific constructs”, which means that in his view the concept of intelligence describes one’s capabilities rather than what one has inside their head (see Kornhaber and Gardner 1991). He strongly believes that the most prominent evidence of MI Theory appears in the studies of average people who have become brain-damaged due to stroke or trauma. For example, the appearance of separate intelligences governing language and spatial thinking may be seen in stroke patients with unimpaired speech who at the same time are unable to find the right direction (see Gardner et al. 1996:204).

The second source of evidence which enabled Gardner to come to his conclusions is the analysis of intellectual profiles of special individuals such as prodigies (people with extraordinary accomplishments in one area) and idiot savants (individuals with the IQ lower than the average, who nonetheless show some remarkable skills in particular areas) (Gardner et al. 1996:204). Moreover, ←17 | 18→Gardner has found evidence for his assumptions in information processing mechanisms that each type of intelligence possesses. He states that “one might go so far as to define a human intelligence as a neural mechanism or computation system which is genetically programmed to be activated or ‘triggered’ by certain kinds of internally or externally presented information” (Gardner 1993b:64).

Although Gardner strongly criticises psychometricians, he also claims that their findings are an additional basis of support for the MI Theory, especially the correlations (or their absence) between intelligences may indicate their autonomy. Additionally, the process that Gardner calls ‘developmental trajectory’, which is a ‘journey’ from presenting basic skills to an expert level can manifest the existence of several types of intelligences (see Gardner et al. 1996:204–205).

There are also two sources of evidence which should be enumerated, namely the relation between evolutionary biology and intelligence, and the existence of the so-called symbol systems. In the first case, Gardner attempts to find a relation between human intellect and the intelligence of other species, for example, among the birds. Secondly, Gardner supports his theory of Multiple Intelligences by analysing symbol systems which can be defined as the means by which cultures capture and transmit significant information. According to him, “symbol systems may have evolved just in those cases where there exists a computational capacity ripe for harnessing by the culture; hence, a primary characteristic of human intelligence may well be its ‘natural’ gravitation toward embodiment in a symbolic system” (Gardner et al. 1996:205).

1.1.1 Linguistic Intelligence

In Frames of Mind (1983:77) Gardner describes linguistic intelligence as the intellectual competence that is distributed “most widely and most democratically across the human species”. It is also the most thoroughly studied intelligence. According to Gardner (see Gardner et al. 1996), the evidence for the existence of linguistic intelligence comes from developmental psychology, neurobiology and neuropsychology. For instance, developmental psychology reveals the fact that the ability to speak and communicate is universal and natural. On the other hand, neuropsychology shows cases of language breakdown based on brain damage, whereas neurobiology points out core information processing mechanisms related to linguistic intelligence. They are mostly dedicated to phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics (see Gardner et al. 1996).

On the basis of that, Gardner presents four aspects of linguistic intelligence, which confirm its importance among other intelligences, namely the rhetorical aspect of language, the mnemonic potential of language, the ←18 | 19→explanatory aspect of language and the potential of language to explain its own activities (see Gardner 1983). The first (rhetorical) aspect, which Gardner defines (1983:78) as “the ability to use language to convince other individuals of a course of action”, can be easily noticed in individuals who are political leaders or legal experts. The second aspect of linguistic intelligence (mnemonic potential of language) is explained as “the capacity to use this tool to help one remember information, ranging from lists of possessions to rules of a game, from directions for finding one’s way to procedures for operating a new machine” (Gardner 1983:78). The most prominent example of the third aspect (explanatory) of linguistic intelligence can be found in scientists and other scholars for whom language is a tool which attempts to convey their concepts5. Language helps to supply metaphors which play a significant role in explaining new discoveries in science and, as Gardner (1983:78) notes, it is the basis for educational instruction:

“[m];uch of teaching and learning occurs through language – at one time, principally through oral instructions, employing verse, collections of adages, or simple explanations; and now, increasingly, through the word in its written form.”

Last but not least, the fourth aspect of linguistic intelligence is defined as “the ability to use language to reflect upon language, to engage in “metalinguistic analysis”” (Gardner 1983:78). This can be noticed in early childhood, when children apply new names of objects (or feelings) to their prior knowledge of the already-known words.

As Gardner explains, it was Noam Chomsky who revolutionised 20th century linguistics by giving a lucid explanation of what language is, how it works, and the place of language in the sphere of human activities (Gardner 1983:79). Chomsky also claimed that children are born with considerable “innate knowledge” about the rules of language and that they have some hypothesis about how to understand and speak their native language. There were also some other scholars, namely Kenneth Wexler and Peter Culicover, who argued that children firstly make some basic assumptions (which presumably are built into their nervous system) about how the code of their language operates, and subsequently, they are able to learn the language.

Linguistic intelligence is mostly exemplified by poets, writers, journalists or scientists. Gardner (1996:205) says that linguistically intelligent individuals are “keenly attuned to the sound”. They have an ability to choose words appropriately ←19 | 20→so that they convey experiences, intentions, emotions or their discoveries (Gardner 1997).

1.1.2 Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Unlike linguistic intelligence, the logical-mathematical one does not have its origins in the auditory-oral sphere and it is connected with the world of objects and abstract relations. Interestingly, it is not Gardner who firstly enumerated this type of intelligence, as it was already documented by Jean Piaget [1896–1980] who “noticed it, studied it, and thought that it is the glue that holds together all cognition” (Gardner 1983:134). As Gardner (1996:207) lucidly explains, in Piaget’s work:

“[…] abstract reasoning begins with exploring and ordering objects. It progresses to manipulating objects and appreciating actions that can be performed on objects, and then, to making prepositions about real or possible actions and their interrelationships. Finally, it advances to the appreciation of relationships in the absence of action or objects – pure, abstract thought.”

Although Piaget presented the development of the logical-mathematical way of thinking, he also stated that this type of intelligence pertains to other intellectual spheres, including musical and interpersonal intelligence. According to him, this ‘abstract reasoning’ was a universal phenomenon; however, it is worth noting that there were many other psychologists who made different claims. For instance, Ceci (1990) argued that the development of abstract reasoning depends mainly on education. On the other hand, Bryant (1974), Gelman and Gallistel (1978), Siegel (1991) stated that abstract thought can be identified even earlier than Piaget imagined, by using materials more appropriate for younger children (see Gardner et al. 1996).

The most significant operation of logical-mathematical intelligence is numbering, which Gardner (1996:207) defines as “the capacity to assign a numeral corresponding to an object in a series of objects.” It is clearly exhibited in mathematicians, computer programmers, financial analysts, accountants, engineers, and scientists. Gardner (1983) claims that like a painter or a poet, a mathematician is a maker of patterns. His major ability is to recognise significant problems and then to solve them. Thus, individuals whose level of logical-mathematical intelligence is high have the ability to handle long chains of reasoning.

Gardner (1983) points out that in many parts of the world logical-mathematical intelligence is not so heavily praised as it is in Western culture, as there are other types of human intellect which might be more helpful in particular situations. ←20 | 21→Hence, it is far more appropriate to think of logical-mathematical intelligence as one of many sets of intelligences, which is not more or less important than others6.

1.1.3 Spatial Intelligence

Spatial intelligence is “the ability to perceive visual or spatial information, to transform and modify this information, and to recreate visual images even without reference to an original physical stimulus” (Gardner et al. 1996:207). Interestingly, this type of intelligence does not depend on visual sensation7. The core abilities of spatial intelligence are the capacity to create three-dimensional images, as well as to move and rotate them. For instance, in Western culture, the development of spatial intelligence can be noticed in middle childhood with the support of appropriate education. Geographers, surgeons and navigators are the prominent examples of individuals who depend on this type of intelligence (see Gardner et al. 1996).

Details

Pages
232
ISBN (PDF)
9783631802700
ISBN (ePUB)
9783631802717
ISBN (MOBI)
9783631802724
ISBN (Book)
9783631780435
Language
English
Publication date
2019 (November)
Tags
Musical aptitude Articulation Phonetics Language Learning Praat Assessment of speaking
Published
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 232 pp., 14 fig. b/w, 35 tables.

Biographical notes

Ewa Kusz (Author)

Ewa Kusz is an assistant professor in the Applied Linguistics Department at the University of Rzeszów, Poland. She specialises in English phonetics and phonology and automatic assessment of speaking.

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Title: Musical Intelligence and Its Impact on English Pronunciation Skills in the Process of Second Language Acquisition