Acquiring novel words in a second language through mutual play with child songs - The Noplica Energy Center

Hahn, L. E., Ten Buuren, M., De Nijs, M., Snijders, T. M., & Fikkert, P. (2019). Acquiring novel words in a second language through mutual play with child songs - The Noplica Energy Center. In L. Nijs, H. Van Regenmortel, & C. Arculus (Eds.), MERYC19 Counterpoints of the senses: Bodily experiences in musical learning (pp. 78-87). Ghent, Belgium: EuNet MERYC 2019.
Child songs are a great source for linguistic learning. Here we explore whether children can acquire novel words in a second language by playing a game featuring child songs in a playhouse. We present data from three studies that serve as scientific proof for the functionality of one game of the playhouse: the Energy Center. For this game, three hand-bikes were mounted on a panel. When children start moving the hand-bikes, child songs start playing simultaneously. Once the children produce enough energy with the hand-bikes, the songs are additionally accompanied with the sounds of musical instruments. In our studies, children executed a picture-selection task to evaluate whether they acquired new vocabulary from the songs presented during the game. Two of our studies were run in the field, one at a Dutch and one at an Indian pre-school. The third study features data from a more controlled laboratory setting. Our results partly confirm that the Energy Center is a successful means to support vocabulary acquisition in a second language. More research with larger sample sizes and longer access to the Energy Center is needed to evaluate the overall functionality of the game. Based on informal observations at our test sites, however, we are certain that children do pick up linguistic content from the songs during play, as many of the children repeat words and phrases from songs they heard. We will pick up upon these promising observations during future studies
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