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Bilingualism and Music Education

A Turkish-German Perspective

Sezgin Inceel

Research indicates that parents play an essential role in their children’s musical and language development. Moreover, neurocognitive studies point to the similarities between music and language processing. Based on the previous literature, the present study focuses on the Turkish immigrant parents’ beliefs and practices regarding bilingualism and music education. Interviews, observations and questionnaires are applied to generate qualitative data. Findings indicate that the participants’ positive beliefs are influenced by distal factors, such as cultural features, their own backgrounds, and socio-demographical characteristics. However, the lack of their theoretical knowledge regarding the subjects seems to have a negative impact on these beliefs.

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1 The Problem


1The Problem


As a music teacher, I have observed many different benefits of music education for language acquisition, including my own learning experiences. Indeed, brain research findings indicate that the certain dimensions of music and languages might be processed by similar or overlapping brain areas (Schön, Gordon & Besson, 2005; Patel, 2003; 2011). It is assumed that babies, since birth, start to listen and produce sound without distinguishing between singing and speech (Chen-Hafteck, 1997). Moreover, music pedagogues Zoltan Kodaly, Carl Orff, and Shinichi Suzuki claim that learning would be enhanced, when music and languages were used together (Suzuki, 1983; Chen-Hafteck, 1997). A great number of studies concluded that music instruction would benefit both first and second language acquisition (Engh, 2013).

The significance of music instruction in language acquisition can also be seen in early childhood education research. Emery (1991) used musical activities to improve the listening skills of kindergarten and the first grade students. The results showed that musical activities improved children’s auditory discrimination, auditory perception, following oral directions and listening comprehension skills. According to Rubinson’s study (2010), musical aptitude has a strong connection with phonological awareness and early reading development for kindergarten children. After a 9-month program Bowen (2010) found out, that pre-kindergarten musical instruction made a significant difference on reading and mathematical skills of kindergarten children. With this insight, the benefits of music for language acquisition become crucial within the Turkish immigrant community in Germany, where mainly the immigrant children...

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