The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Marya Teutsch-Dwyer

Second Advisor

Suellen Rundquist

Third Advisor

Philippe Costaglioli

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Can music be an effective tool for teaching grammar to ESL students? While some believe that grammar should not be approached through music, since the two are processed in opposite hemispheres of the brain, a review of literature on neural processing suggests that a normal brain readily transfers information between hemispheres via the corpus callosum, and such transfer is facilitated by repetition. If an ESL student leans a song that correctly places certain grammatical forms in context, the student should be able to transfer those patterns correctly to speech, especially if the music imitates natural spoke intonation, rhythm, and emotion. Music should create an advantage for children from 7-10 years of age, for females, and for students who first language is tonal.

This study, conducted with over 100 first- through fourth-grade ESL students in the St. Cloud area, examines the correlation between learning and the use or non-use of music to teach four specific grammar structures: reflexive pronouns; there is/there are; (another) and I; and plurals ending with "s." The control group subjects were taught without music, while the test group subject were taught with music written by the researcher specifically for this project. A pre-test and post-test were used to determine gains in learning and to make comparisons between the groups.

Music appears to have given the test group only a slight edge over the control group in most aspects evaluated. Further analysis of the data when research subjects were grouped by moderator variables reveals that test fourth graders and test subjects with tonal home language made substantial gains, not only beyond their counterparts in the control group, but also beyond test group subjects of other ages or with tonal home languages.

OCLC Number