Psychology (Eloise McCann)

Broad project aims

  1. To engage native English speakers in learning Mandarin Chinese
  2. To investigate cultural, emotional and experiential aspects of learning Chinese in the context of music-making, especially choral singing


Aims and Objectives

The main aim of my thesis is to explore the emotional and experiential aspects of learning a second language through singing in a choir and to examine the impact of this learning on second language proficiency. There are several research questions, listed below.


  1. What emotional experiences are reported by singers when rehearsing and performing songs in a non-native language?
  2. How do these experiences change as the repertoire and language become more familiar during the learning (rehearsal) process?
  3. Do participants in the choirs have an increase in second language proficiency in comparison to participants only attending language classes?
  4. How far can the choirs aid language learning/ be a tool to aid language learning?


Research Projects


The first three of my research projects work closely with the education strand of the Chinese Whispers project. The fourth is a nationwide questionnaire that looks more broadly at the experiences of singing in a non-native language.


  1. Preliminary study – Interview of teachers in schools, Chinese music teacher, and questionnaire interview with adult choir members of a community choir. These interviews followed the first round of Chinese choir sessions. Questions focused on experiences of the choirs.
  2. Comparison study – Comparing grades of students who attend the choirs and those who don’t. Both groups take part in formal Mandarin classes. This will be achieved through an online test, one taken at the start of the choir period and one at the end.
  3. Experience study (choir study) – Interview a selection of members from all choirs, teachers, Chinese music teacher, and conductors. Focus on their experiences of singing in Mandarin. Questions on familiarity, emotional experiences, and overall engagement of taking part in the project.
  4. Nationwide questionnaire – Online questionnaire sent to choirs in the UK. Focuses on their experiences of singing in any non-native language. Asks participants to report their proficiency in the language both before joining the choir and afterwards.