Born to speak and sing: musical predictors of language development in pre-schoolers

Article


Politimou, N., Dalla Bella, S., Faruggia, N. and Franco, F. 2019. Born to speak and sing: musical predictors of language development in pre-schoolers. Frontiers in Psychology. 10, pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00948
TypeArticle
TitleBorn to speak and sing: musical predictors of language development in pre-schoolers
AuthorsPolitimou, N., Dalla Bella, S., Faruggia, N. and Franco, F.
Abstract

The relationship between musical and linguistic skills has received particular attention in infants and school-aged children. However, very little is known about pre-schoolers. This leaves a gap in our understanding of the concurrent development of these skills during development. Moreover, attention has been focused on the effects of formal musical training, while neglecting the influence of informal musical activities at home. To address these gaps, in Study 1, 3- and 4-year-old children (n = 40) performed novel musical tasks (perception and production) adapted for young children in order to examine the link between musical skills and the development of key language capacities, namely grammar and phonological awareness. In Study 2 we investigated the influence of informal musical experience at home on musical and linguistic skills of young pre-schoolers, using the same evaluation tools. We found systematic associations between distinct musical and linguistic skills. Rhythm perception and production were the best predictors of phonological awareness, while melody perception was the best predictor of grammar acquisition, a novel association not previously observed in developmental research. These associations could not be explained by variability in general cognitive functioning, such as verbal memory and non-verbal abilities. Thus, selective music-related auditory and motor skills are likely to underpin different aspects of language development and can be dissociated in pre-schoolers. We also found that informal musical experience at home contributes to the development of grammar. An effect of musical skills on both phonological awareness and language grammar is mediated by home musical experience. These findings pave the way for the development of dedicated musical activities for pre-schoolers to support specific areas of language development.

LanguageEnglish
PublisherFrontiers Research Foundation
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
ISSN1664-1078
Publication dates
Online24 May 2019
Print24 May 2019
Publication process dates
Deposited28 May 2019
Submitted27 Jan 2019
Accepted09 Apr 2019
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
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Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2019 Politimou, Dalla Bella, Farrugia and Franco. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00948
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