The Role of Music in Second Language Learning: A Vietnamese Perspective

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Mon Jul 28 14:06:44 UTC 2008

The Role of Music in Second Language Learning:

A Vietnamese Perspective

By Mark Huy Le

University of Tasmania

Music has been playing a significant role in language teaching and
learning process. Thus, it does not receive enough attention in
educational research. The accepted conclusion is, then, that music
enhances a learning atmosphere because its affective power. The study
was qualitatively conducted in Vietnam to examine how music was
accepted by both Vietnamese second language educators and students. It
mainly focused on the role of music in second language learning. The
study appears interesting insight that music is widely used in various
extracurricular activities and learning experience. Pedagogically,
both teachers and students gave high value to English Music in the
process of teaching learning of language skills such reading,
listening, speaking and writing as well. However, the English music
must be viewed critically in which they might carry out cultural
values or even political interest.


The eagerness of Vietnamese has been echoing since 1986 when the
government started to implement the policy of Doi Moi (new change)
which promoted interaction with the outside world especially the west.
Hence, English becomes one of the popular subjects in secondary
education. Private English Classes has been spreading out to cover the
eagerness of the society to learn English as the response of
government's request. English music becomes very popular to
Vietnamese. Despite of traditional performance, English music involves
in every musical show held. Here, scholars start to put English music
including song as an educational discourse in which they might give
much improvement in language teaching and learning.

Vietnamese students are well-known as music lovers. It is because
music has become part of their life since their traditional customs
include music in their rituals. English music have widely spread along
the country-side and many Vietnamese sings English songs as sequence.
Often, they sing the songs perfectly as if they were the native of
English. Of course, this might give significant evidence that students
might learn English better with the help of music. In order to support
this view, a study was conducted in Vietnam to examine the
relationship between music and English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

Aims and Objectives

The study aims to investigate the view of both EFL teachers and
students about the role of music in second language teaching and
learning process. The study rouses the following research question;

What are the views held by Vietnamese EFL university students about
the significance of music in education?

What are their views about the significance of music in an EFL curriculum?

3. What are their views about the significance of music in
extracurricular activities?

 4. What are their views about the negative aspect of the use of
western music in education?

III. Methodology

The study devises a qualitative research in which it might gain some
insights from both EFL teachers and students about their views on the
importance of music in teaching and learning English in Vietnam.

Furthermore, the study includes interview, observing, participating in
social and musical activities. The researcher conducted informal and
unstructured interviews with three EFL teachers and six students in
various situational contexts as well. Each interview lasted
approximately an hour. The interviews were conducted in English as
they were fluent in English. Electronic equipment was used to record
the interviews.

IV. Result and Discussion

The all data from the interviews, observation notes and reflection
notes revealed the following views:

1. The significance of music

Music is international, music is internationally used for
communication. It can be shared, enjoyed by people of different
linguistic and cultural background. Furthermore, western music has
been seen as a modern trend for EFL students.

Music enables learners to relax in a learning atmosphere, here music
provides a pleasant environment to the process of learning. It also
reduces pressure and tension in the class.

Music bridges gap between teacher and students, in a Confucian society
as Vietnamese believe, teachers are perceived as superior. However,
music helps to bring teacher and students closer together.

Music makes language learning interesting, Vietnamese students in
level of education are comfortable with singing in the class,
individually or even in-group. They enjoy songs in English classes.

2. Music in an EFL curriculum

Both teachers and students in the interviews agreed that music was
helpful to learning English. However, due to a great emphasis on
formal teaching and learning, the role of music in the EFL curriculum
did not receive great attention.

3. Music as an extracurricular activities

Extracurricular musically-based activities are essential in the lives
of EFL students in particular and tertiary students in general. The
activities include singing in the class, musical performance, frequent
home-singing gatherings, farewell parties and etc.

4. Music import and Its potential problems

Some interviews give clear insight that Vietnamese traditional customs
is giving a way to western music. Only some messages brought by the
western songs such individual freedom, sexual liberation, and social
hostility contradict with Vietnamese traditional customs.


The study appears that music and language are two different domains
with little or no connection. This is somehow true if one examines the
attention (or lack of attention) given to this connection in research
in the past decade, particularly on the role of music in second
language learning.


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