Want to evaluate children’s grammar skills? Start by examining their rhythm.
Researcher Reyna Gordon gathered a group of 6-year-olds and had them go through a series of tests that asked them to detect if various sets of melodies and beats were different or the same. Then, the children answered questions about photographs that were shown to them and were evaluated by their ability to use past and present tense.
The children who performed well on one test did well on the other, regardless of their IQ, socioeconomic factors and music experience.
From an outsider’s perspective, the tests seem unrelated yet Gordon believes there is a strong connection between music and language. It is another reason why music education should be valued.
“In grammar, children’s minds must sort the sounds they hear into words, phrases and sentences and the rhythm of speech helps them to do so,” according to a Vanderbilt University press release. “In music, rhythmic sequences give structure to musical phrases and help listeners figure out how to move to the beat. Perhaps children who are better at detecting variations in music timing are also better at detecting variations in speech and therefore have an advantage in learning language, she suggested.”
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