Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MMUS)




The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of musical and non­ musical presentations on vocabulary acquisition by English as second language (ESL) students. Subjects (N=16) were second-grade ESL students at Belle Ryan Elementary School of Omaha Public Schools. A pretest/posttest control group design was used. Subjects (N=8) in the control group received instruction in the language unit covering body parts vocabulary using a non-musical presentation conducted by the ESL classroom teacher. The treatment group (N=8) received instruction in the unit using a musical presentation that combined the musical elements of melody, rhythm and rhyme to teach the target vocabulary. The results were derived from at-test analysis and comparison of pre- and posttest scores on a researcher-constructed test using materials from standardized test units contained in the ESL language curriculum. The results indicated that although the treatment group did show dramatic improvement in mean scores on the posttest, there was no statistically significant difference between groups receiving instruction in the musical and non-musical presentations. As both presentations were equally effective for teaching the target vocabulary, the study results support the value of using music as an important vehicle for enhancing second language acquisition and suggest that musical activities should be incorporated into the ESL classroom curriculum.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Music and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Music (MMUS) University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1998 Margaret A. Hein.