Incidental Vocabulary Learning in a Music Listening Task and a Study on the Role of Rhyme

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This study aims at identifying the role of rhyme as a mnemonic device in the incidental acquisition of second language vocabulary. Dutch L2 learners of English were asked to listen to a rap song containing pseudowords in rhyme context, supported by a visual presentation of the lyrics on a computer screen. A control group followed the same procedure but listened to a version of the song in which the rhyming pseudowords were replaced with non-rhyming pseudowords. Both groups were subjected to a comprehension test and two vocabulary post-tests that measured form recognition and meaning recollection as two key indicators of a learning effect. Results showed that participants in both conditions scored equally well on the vocabulary post tests. This entails that no effect of rhyme on learning effects was found. The results did show that all participants scored above chance level on the two tests. This is taken as evidence of the possibility to incidentally learn vocabulary in the context of hip-hop music. This serves as an encouragement not just for learners, but also for classroom instructors to incorporate rap music into strategies of second language vocabulary learning.
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