Music helps hearing-impaired children to learn language skills

Music really is a universal language. All people regardless of their age and socioeconomic status can enjoy some music. And in some cases it is actually very useful. Scientists from the University of Helsinki say that music helps improving the spoken language of the hear­ing-im­paired. That is why Finnish scientists have prepared guidelines for in­ter­na­tional use.

Music enhances children’s learning skills as well as helps improving language skills. Image credit: 刘睿忱 via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Scientists noticed that music and especially singing benefits the brain of hearing-impaired children  and their spoken language. This knowledge came to scientists almost by accident when they were developing a music playschool designed for children using a cochlear implant. Music playschool is essentially a speech-music group, designed to improve the perception of speech and spoken language. You may think that music does nothing to hearing-impaired children, but multiple researches including this one demonstrated that musical activities develop children’s perception of prosody, such as rhythm and pitch variation, and spoken language.

Music is a great teaching method for everyone. It improves listening skills, makes children more attentive and is an entertaining way of getting to know more. It also improves language skills, especially to those who are hearing-impaired. For example, scientists say that music helps children with hearing disabilities to learn to hear voices and speech in crowded environments. This is one of the greatest challenges for hearing-impaired children – they often struggle to hear what someone is saying when there is a lot of background noise. This makes absorbing information in school and everyday life a lot more difficult, but music and especially singing can help with that.

Scientists also remind us that singing is a great way to express yourself. Minna Huotilainen, author of the study, said: “It would be great if the musical skills already acquired before university studies could be acknowledged at the entrance examination stage”.

And it is not the first research stating this fact – music should be an integral part of wholesome education. Those children who learned to play instruments and later got in a band or orchestra, are better at math and science. Meanwhile singing helps improving listening skills as well as language. In other words, teaching kids music is just a great idea.

Funding for music education is always lacking. This is because many policy makers and education system officers consider music to be secondary, not very important. However, it certainly helps. There are numerous studies like this and, hopefully, someday people will realize that teaching children with music is not just fun waste of time – it is truly educational and helpful.

 

Source:  University of Helsinki


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