Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MEd)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Freddie Bowles

Committee Member

Tatsuya Fukushima

Second Committee Member

Alissa Blair


Language, Music, Phonology, Pronunciation, Singing, SL


Observed differences exist in the pronunciation abilities of individual language learners, especially adult learners. Musical ability and experience are possible factors that have been attributed to language pronunciation abilities. Although there has been a large amount of research concerning the effects of general musical ability and training on language abilities, very few studies have investigated the musical sub-category of singing. Research on the use of songs in the language classroom has largely tested the effects of song on vocabulary acquisition, while very few studies have explored the effects of song on pronunciation. Given that singing and pronunciation both use similar productive systems, the relationship between singing and pronunciation merits investigation. This review looks critically at the current research on singing and pronunciation abilities. Evidence from the current research shows that both singers and instrumental musicians perform better than non-musicians on language imitation tasks, and in some cases higher singing ability has a stronger effect on pronunciation performance than musicality alone. There is also evidence that singing and songs support sound memory and the verbatim recall of words when associated with simple melodies. The studies also indicate that working memory plays a large role in pronunciation performance, but this may be due to the studies’ experimental setups which use working memory heavy tasks. Rhythmic perception abilities and the use of distinct pitches for syllables may contribute to better word segmentation. Researchers’ conclusions concerning the relationship between singing and pronunciation abilities address the multi-dimensional nature of pronunciation ability, similarities between song and infant-directed language input, and the neurological overlap of language, music, singing, and memory. The limitations of current research are that most of the studies relied on languages unfamiliar to subjects to test pronunciation, which could disproportionately represent the importance of working memory as a factor in pronunciation. Research on the benefits of song on pronunciation is promising, but because the current pool of research on singing and pronunciation is very limited, more research is needed.