Songs in theClassroom:A Useful ToolKathiuska Murcia Cortes FUNLAM 2012
Songs are part of daily life… Who doesn’t enjoy music at home, while travelling or studying, or even at work?Language teachers can use songs to openor close their lessons, to illustrate themesand topics, to add variety or a change ofpace, present new vocabulary or recycleknown language. But how do songs actuallybenefit your students?
A useful toolThere is strong practical evidence supporting the useof music in the English language classroom; there isalso a growing body of research confirming that songsare a useful tool in language acquisition. In factmusical and language processing occur in the samearea of the brain. (Medina, 1993)
Studies have shown that music...• Improves concentration• Improves memory• Brings a sense of community to a group• Motivates learning• Relaxes people who areoverwhelmed or stressed• Makes learning fun• Helps people absorb material
What positive contributions to language learning can songs make? Socio – emotional growth Physical development Cognitive training Cultural literacy Language Learning
Types of songs There are many types of songs which can be used in the classroom, ranging from nursery rhymes to contemporary pop music. There is also a lot of music written specifically for English language teaching ‘Real’ music that the children hear and play every day can be extremely motivating in the classroom, too. WATCH OUT ! the lyrics may not always be suitable
Why are songs so suitable? Pop songs help learning a second language:• Contain common, short words• Language is conversational • Lyrics are often sung at• Time and place are a slower rate than spoken words. usually imprecise • There is repetition of words and grammar • Motivate learners to learn Murphy (1992)
Using songs in the English Classroom • “Music is the universal language of mankind” Henry Wadsworth LongfellowHave you ever heard of anyone who doesnt like music? Some people may not like art, dancing, reading, or movies, but almost everyone likesone kind of music or another. Most people like many different kinds of music.
“Music stabilizesmental, physical andemotional rhythms toattain a state of deepconcentration andfocus in which largeamounts of contentinformation can beprocessed andlearned."Chris Brewer, Music andLearning
Techniques for Using Music with L2 Learners Introduce a new theme or Teach pronunciation and topic intonation (Christmas/colours/feelings) Teach songs and rhymes Break the ice in a class about difficult grammar where students dont know and spelling rules that each other or are having need to be memorized difficulty communicating Teach reading Change the mood comprehension Teach and build Inspire a class discussion vocabulary and idioms Teach listening for details Review material and gist (background music improves memory)
PRACTICAL TIPS AND TASKS FOR USING SONGS If you can commit to using music once a week, you may soon see the benefits, and realize that you want to do it more often and in a variety of ways. Here are some activities for you to try:
Focus it• Have them think about the title of the song, in groups of pairs. Find a picture that relates to the subject of the song and have students make guesses about it.
Highlight it• Get students to circle, underline or highlight specific words or word categories.
Stop it• Students must shout STOP any time they hear one of the new words.• You could also stop the song before a word you want them to guess or detail.
Lip sync itHave students lip sync the song before a team of judges in a Class Idol show. This allows them to become familiar with the words, rhythm, stress and intonation before actually singing the words out loud.
Strip it• Cut the song into strips and give each student one strip to memorize. Students then organize themselves in the right order, speak the song and then listen and check. When I see your face theres not a thing… that I would change… …Cause youre amazing Just the way you are… …And when you smile the whole world stops… …and stares for a while …Cause girl youre amazing Just the way you are.
Question it• What is the best explanation for this: "I love you just the way you are when not being just the way you are"?
Gap it• You can prepare a gapped version of the lyrics and let students complete them before listening and then check afterwards.
Draw it• Get students to draw or collage the song and compare the visualizations in class
Tips for Using Music EffectivelyThe possibilities are endless. Music and songs are fun, and most people enjoy them. Make songs a regular feature in your lessons!
Can’t get it outta my head!Expose studentsto a certain songmany days in arow. Within a fewdays, studentswill not be able toget the song outof their head!
References and Cibergraphy • Lems, Kirsten, Using Music in the Adult ESL Classroom, ERIC Digest, 2001. • Medina, Suzanne L, The Effect of Music on Second Language Vocabulary Acquisition, ‘National Network for Early Language Learning’, Vol 6-3, 1993. • Murphy, T (1992), The discourse op pop songs, TESOL Quarterly 26”(4), 770-774. • http:// www.englishclub.com/teaching-tips/music-classroom.htm • http://www.eslbase.com/articles/songs • http://www.eslbase.com/articles/pop-songs