How can you tell if a child might have difficulties learning languages?
Here’s a simple method that takes less than 30 seconds: ask her/him to repeat a drumbeat.
While far from foolproof, matching rhythms may be an early indicator of potential language learning capacity, according to Nina Kraus, Ph.D, an auditory neurobiologist and professor at Northwestern University who spoke at last Sunday’s KPCC Crawford Family Forum in Pasadena. Since music and language are remarkably similar in the neural processes they employ, she said, it’s possible to predict on a very basic level how children who find it difficult to follow beats might have problems in school.
Along with panelists Suzanne Gindin, founder of the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra (BHCYO), and Kristen Madsen, Senior Vice President of The GRAMMY Foundation & MusiCares, Kraus discussed her research on how music and the brain are interconnected. The key takeaway was how music—specifically, how playing an instrument—can help overcome learning obstacles for children born into poverty, who tend to have greater difficulties with school. Continue reading