Theory Behind Using Music to Teach English as a Second Language

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A presentation about the theory behind using music in the ESL classroom for the Arkansas State University Delta Symposium, presented April 6, 2011.

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  • Some people have a lot of success using music in the classroom. I know that using a background music like mellow classical, didgereedoo, nature sounds or another relaxing kind of music can help students focus. Musical chairs is popular with kids because it's fun, but the kids can get out of hand and it's not very educational. I never liked singing so it's not something I explored much. Teaching ESL is a way for you though to possibly use your skills, interests and talents to teach your students. But remember just because you are interested doesn't mean they are.
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Theory Behind Using Music to Teach English as a Second Language

  1. 1. Elisabeth Chan The International Center for English Arkansas State University Delta Symposium – April 6, 2011
  2. 6. <ul><li>At what age did you start listening to music as a hobby? </li></ul><ul><li>As adults an adult, what type of music are you most nostalgic for? Is it music you listened to as a teenager or young adult? </li></ul>
  3. 7. (Levitin, 2006)
  4. 8. <ul><li>The same amount of vocabulary was acquired from listening to a song as listening to a story. </li></ul><ul><li>More words were acquired when they were sung rather than spoken. </li></ul><ul><li>But the greatest amount of vocabulary was acquired when the stories were both sung and illustrated! (Medina,1993) </li></ul>
  5. 9. This S ong Is S tuck I n M y H ead!
  6. 10. Pop songs have a high verb count and few concrete referents for participants, times, and places. <ul><ul><li>Baby talk by adults and words in pop songs shares many similar aspects (Murphey and Alber, 1985) </li></ul></ul>(Murphey, 1998) <ul><ul><li>“ Rhythmical structure allows it to be more memorable” (Sagawa, 1999) </li></ul></ul>It is to teenagers, what “baby talk” is to babies. <ul><ul><li>Music is the “Motherese of Adolescence” </li></ul></ul>
  7. 11. <ul><li>Verbal thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Words used for thinking </li></ul><ul><li>When children repeat words to themselves </li></ul><ul><li>Thinking aloud </li></ul><ul><li>Rehearsing speech or song silently in your mind </li></ul>
  8. 13. <ul><li>Pronunciation is more than pronouncing the sound /b/ correctly for the letter “B”. </li></ul><ul><li>Stressing the correct syllables and how you say certain words of a sentence faster than others is more important to increase English comprehensibility. </li></ul><ul><li>Different languages have different stress and timing. </li></ul>
  9. 14. <ul><ul><li>I | read a BOOK | in the LI brary | YES terday. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ki/no/u/ to/sho/ka/n/ de/ ho/n/ wo/ yo/mi/ma/shi/ta. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In the English example, you take the same amount of time to say “read a book” as “in the library”, although there are more syllables. </li></ul><ul><li>In the Japanese example, each syllable receives the same amount of time. </li></ul><ul><li>Using music to teach English can help increase comprehensibility and intelligibility by helping students with their stress-timing! </li></ul>
  10. 15. <ul><li>Chan, E. & Beni, K. (2007). Sounds Good to Me: Using Music and Song in L2 Teaching Workshop. Presented at DaTESL hosted at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. </li></ul><ul><li>Levitin, D. (2006). This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York, NY: Dutton Adult. </li></ul><ul><li>Medina, S. (1993). The effect of music on second language vocabulary acquisition. FEES News (National Network for Early Language Learning) , 6(3), 1-8. </li></ul><ul><li>Murphey, T. (1990). The song stuck in my head phenomenon: A melodic din in the LAD? System , 18(1), 53-64. </li></ul><ul><li>Murphey, T. (1992). The discourse of pop songs. TESOL Quarterly, 26(4), 770-774. </li></ul><ul><li>Murphey, T. (1992). Music & song . Oxford: Oxford University Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Murphey, T. & Alber, J.L. (1985). A pop song register: The motherese of adolescents as affective foreigner talk. TESOL Quarterly, 19(4), 793-795. </li></ul><ul><li>Sagawa, M. (1999). TESOL: The use of arts in language teaching. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from http://homepage3. nifty.com/mmsagawa/hooked/tesol_art.html </li></ul>

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