A Theoretical Comparison Between Music and Language Acquisition in Children

May 13, 2010 / By: Erica Winters

The intent of this study was to investigate the principles that underlie the acquisition of music and language in children.  Three theoretical questions were examined.  (1) What are the principles inherent in the acquisition of music? (2) What are the principles inherent in the acquisition of language?  (3) Are there similarities and dissimilarities in the acquisition of music and language?

The first two questions were answered based on a review of the research and literature.  By examining the similarities and dissimilarities of music and language acquisitions, assumptions were made regarding the impact music exposure potentially has on children in the process of language acquisition.  This researcher attempted to find implications for educators, parents, and children regarding the influence music and language may have on each other in the cognitive learning process.

The researcher discovered many similarities between the acquisition of music and language, especially in the way in which we organize sound during the infant stages.  In terms of vocal development in both music and language acquisition, children must explore by listening, reacting, imitating, babbling, humming, singing, and talking during the earliest stages of development.  First, children must acculturate or absorb, respond, and try to relate to the sounds in their environment.  Next, they must imitate, by recognizing patterns and movements and then imitate new sounds with precision.  Children must then assimilate, which is the process through which new information and new experiences are incorporated into their cognitive repertoire.  Finally, they must accommodate, or make changes to their existing knowledge based on new and different information.  As a result, the researcher was able to examine how music can aid in language acquisition for children in a music classroom as well for children with special needs in a therapy environment.