Friday, November 9, 2012

In the mood to better manage the milieu during pronunciation work?

Photo credit: Library of Congress/Clker
Intuitively, everyone from marketers to mothers understands the power of music to alter mood and help manage behaviour. Some language teaching methods, such as Suggestopedia, have been very intentional in what kind music is applied, how and when. Previous posts have addressed the value of using music synchronized to movement in training and practice in kinaesthetic and haptic-integrated work. (Some of the EHIEP videos are being redesigned to be strongly music/rhythm-synchronized.)

Like many of you, I have experimented over the years with background or "mood" music in a wide range of classroom settings. In general, I think it is fair to say that it always "worked." The problems, however, were simply time and technology: time, in that it took so much of it to identify and prepare appropriate pieces and excerpts; technology, in that the equipment at the time was so cumbersome that often just the effect or distraction of operating the system during a lesson was enough to more than cancel out any potential benefit. (At one point I did have great system in a mammoth classroom with a 6-CD capacity that seemed to be very effective at times.)

A 2011 study by Jolij and Meurs of the University of Groningen (Summarized by Science Daily) again points to the potential of background/mood music in our work. That research demonstrates dramatically how music can alter perceptions and expectations--based not just on experience, but mood (affected by music) as well. Although the study itself was relatively simple, basically varying speed of identifying happy and sad icons, depending on background music, the underlying effect appeared to be strong. Now that the technology is readily available to quickly create collections of songs with seamless transitions that complement the tasks involved, it is clearly time to reconsider managing the milieu more systematically--with music. 

1 comment:

Angelina Van Dyke said...

It's interesting to think how background music could be incorporated into this. Were you thinking Mozart, Bach or opera?

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