MUSIC, ENGLISH AND DYSLEXIA. ORCHESTRAL AND PROSODIC MULTIMODAL PATHWAYS TO SUPPORT THE SECOND-LANGUAGE LEARNING OF STUDENTS WITH SPECIFIC LEARNING DIFFICULTIES
Learning English as a foreign language, for Italian (or other transparent, romance languages) mother-tongue subjects with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) and Dyslexia, is often hard and unsuccessful. Their oral competence is often very compromised, too: no confidence is achieved on conversational and prosodic behaviour, and huge difficulties are detected when the listening and the comprehension competences are evaluated. The paper presents innovative pathways proposed to students with SpLD by Esagramma, a clinic and educational research centre based in Milano (Italy). Two Esagramma Methodologies® are supporting the pathways : the Orchestral Music Education one (in Italian EMO – Educazione Musicale Orchestrale) and the English Conversation Observatory one (ECO). The paper presents such methodologies and the protocols (based on Computational Linguistics and on Conversational Psychology) used to analyse and discusses the most original results obtained so far.
The main educational goals achieved during the joint pathways are:
- The decrease of cognitive and psychological problems often relied to the SpDL conditions: concentration, memory, attention, emotional skills, self-esteem, self-exposure and expressiveness, over/under estimation of personal capabilities and competences, and resiliency.
- The development of better conversational competencies on the second non transparent language through pleasant activities to obtain (as side effect) the reactivation of the English learning process, often interrupted because felt as too hard and unsuccessful.
The EMO pathway proposes the direct participation in weekly sessions of orchestral involvement. In a ‘participative’ chamber classical orchestra, students are invited to play classical instruments (violins, cellos, contrabasses, huge and small percussions, harps, and keyboards) with professional musicians, even if they never played before and if they cannot read a score.
The ECO pathway proposes the direct participation in weekly sessions of semi-structured and audio-recorded conversations with English mother-tongue professors and peers. Film dubbing, role playing, narrative and story telling sessions, games allowing prosodic different behaviour are encourage. Individual or group activities are previewed to structure pathways becoming progressively more complex in shape and time sequencing.
The obtained results are evaluated using two protocols.
The EMO observation protocol allows the analysis of:
- The approach to the musical instrument, the achieved expressiveness variety, the time scale, and the development of an appropriate musical behaviour along the pathway;
- The willingness to the structured interaction, the relationships with the team experts, the comparison between the verbal-relational and the musical-instrumental behaviour.
The ECO observation protocol is based on:
- Computational Linguistics Analysis (dealing with lexicographic, syntactic, semantic, discursive, and dialogic analysis);
- Speech and Prosodic Analysis (dealing with the extraction of acoustic features, already known in the Music Information Retrieval field and MPEG-7 encoding, joint to analysis protocols, based on multidimensional analysis techniques of data, collected from sessions);
The EMO and the ECO observation protocols both allow assessing improvements of the subject’s relational, cognitive and speech abilities, and the impact on her/his specific learning difficulties.