Department of Enrollment

Modern Languages

Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Kelly Arispe

Report Date


Document Type

Student Project


Music and movement may have the potential to trigger memories and connections that affect mood and behavior. According to research in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) (Del Campo, 1997), meaningful communication is composed of three important elements: gestures, verbal language and intonation. Gestures and movement account for nearly 70% of communication, whereas the remaining 30% of meaningful communication lies in intonation and verbal language. Earworms, or Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI), have played an important role in marketing by using music that gets “stuck” in the brain. Factors such as note duration, pitch intervals and exposure to an environment or movement associated with the onset of INMI may explain the brain’s ability to easily recall and reproduce songs or dances. For this reason, the use of INMI might be useful when coupled with teaching methods such as Total Physical Response (TPR), which require full body interaction in language education and could be effective in memory recall by using gesturing, our most dominant form of communication. Though music and movement have been independently proven effective in SLA, studies have not yet combined and analyzed the effectiveness of both of these forms of communication. Incorporating gestures and music into classroom instruction may help second language learners grasp complicated lexical concepts such as prepositions, which can be difficult to understand because they describe both abstract and concrete relationships between animate and inanimate objects. This study looks at spatial prepositions that describe physical location to determine if it is easier for language learners to visualize the physical location with the use of musical imagery and gesture in tandem. Specifically, participants in the experimental group will mirror a teacher-led dance that includes instrumental music, vocabulary of prepositions and chanting. Subjects will be assessed for comprehension immediately following the lesson. One week later, participants will be assessed to determine the effects on memory recall. A control group will receive a lecture-based lesson with the same assessment administered at the same intervals as the experimental group. The data will be analyzed to determine the effects of the combined TPR and INMI methods on the language learner’s ability to recognize, retain and reproduce the new vocabulary. Subjects in the experimental group will also receive a survey following the study that will assess their overall experience as well as the effectiveness of the methods used.


Revised October 30, 2013.