Music and Language in Education: Musical Experience as an indicator of L2 Morphosyntactic Proficiency and an Evaluation of Dutch Music Education
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This study investigated the interactions between musical experience and performance in a morphosyntactic test in the participants’ L2 English. Participants were 37 students from Dutch secondary schools of HAVO and VWO levels. They were asked to complete a short morphosyntax exercise and a questionnaire. Based on the literature I hypothesised that I would find correlations between factors of musical experience and all categories of morphosyntactic exercises. Findings indicated no difference in mean score between participants who did and did not play an instrument. For participants who did play an instrument there was a correlation between years played and accuracy in morphosyntax exercises. This study also investigated the quality of one of the most reliable sources of musical experience for students of L2 English, music lessons in secondary education. There is a great deal of ambiguity regarding the quality of music education in the literature. Participants were 41 Dutch people of ages 15 to 78 who attended Dutch secondary schools. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire inquiring about their experience in music education, and the competence of their music teacher during their time in secondary school. Findings are that the students do not feel that they achieve the official goals set by the government for music education (Kerndoelen onderbouw voortgezet onderwijs 2010 (Ocw) p. 5). Teacher competence was rated slightly more positively. There was no sign of an ongoing decrease in quality. There was a weak correlation between teacher competence and goal achievement. The overall conclusion is that, assuming that the connection between musical experience and morphosyntax exercise performance is causative, the potential bolstering of L2 acquisition adds to the reasons to strive to improve music education in secondary schools.