Language Learning and the Arts: Digital Music Composition As A Means to Language Expression

By:
Dr. Michael Nord,
Prof. MaryJane Danan,
Dr. Wayne Gregory
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Second language learners often face challenges to the expression of their ideas due to the limitations of linguistic form. This presentation will describe a project that used digital arts technology, constructivist pedagogy, creative problem-solving, and artistic exploration to enable university-level Japanese learners of English to create artistic “texts” which they could discuss in English. Using a state of the art lab, students were introduced to digital music and new media tools that offered wide range of creative options and were also easy to master in a short amount of time. A carefully crafted progression of small projects prepared students for a summative work in which they created a short Quicktime movie from graphical images of American culture and composed an original score to accompany it. The score and the movie had to work together to convey their interpretation and feelings about American culture and society, and their experience with it. The students, none of whom were music majors, experienced composers, or considered themselves artists, were able to create artistic works that provided an authentic context in which to use English to discuss the abstract concepts behind what they had created. At each point in the step-by-step process, students could think abstractly in Japanese or music to do their creative work. In turn, they would explain their work and choices in English, allowing for a richer applied use of the language than one simply guided by their limited fluency. Students presented their final projects at a “media arts festival” expressing their ideas in English by means of an artist’s statement. This approach to language learning through artistic expression empowered students to think at a deeper level about their perceptions of American culture and to reflect more critically on their ideas about their own culture.


Keywords: Constructivist pedagogy, arts-integration, digital media creation, creative problem solving, music and second language learning
Stream: Arts Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Michael Nord

Assistant Professor of Music Technology and Education, Willamette University
USA


Prof. MaryJane Danan

Associate Professor, Tokyo International University of America, Willamette University
USA


Dr. Wayne Gregory

Associate Professor, Tokyo International University of America, Willamette University
USA


Ref: A06P0185