The Importance of Including Songs into the Classroom Activity
To call oneself a good teacher is not only about knowing the most efficient teaching methods - creativity is very crucial for maintaining the learner’s interest through the lessons. Teaching languages there is all different kind of learners and each with variating motivations and reasons. Characteristics that should be highly considered especially for the selection of your creative tasks. But there are two facts: First, music is something most people like and feel connected to – no matter which country they are from or if they are old or young. Second, songs indeed can be very helpful for learning languages. Apart from exemplifying the use of vocabulary and grammar structures, they are very good for improving listening skills, pronunciation skills, and writing skills. So, it is not a question whether it is good or not, but rather what is essential to consider when using songs in the classroom.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Verena E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
First, you should be sure of what you want to achieve with the song used in the lesson, to be able to search and find a song that suits your purposes. You can e.g. choose a song for its topic or for a certain grammar structure or vocabulary that is used in the song. Selecting the song, you should also consider the age of your students – you could also let the students tell you different songs they like, from which you can choose one. If none of their songs suit your teaching purpose, you could still add it as an extra exercise to maintain rapport while using another song to reach your teaching goals.
Once you chose your song, you made it through the most difficult part regarding this topic. For starting, depending on the song and your intentions, you can ponder even showing the music video – given you have access to it – or simply let your students listen to the song. To elicit conversation and use of vocabulary you could also start by asking your students questions about specific topics being discussed in the song before you let them listen to it. Now you want to work with the lyrics and there are several options to exploit a song's potential. You can hand out the complete lyrics immediately, or you hand them out as a gap fill worksheet. The latter you can either let your students fill in while listening to the song again or you provide a list of words and let them allocate these words to the gaps. At one point in this stage, you should give your learners the possibility to clarify unknown vocabulary. Idioms and expressions are also part of this - here you should provide different examples of how they can be used, to make sure they are understood. You might not only want to show your students new vocabulary but show the use of specific grammatical aspects – also grammatical flexibility – or verb tenses. As an exercise, you can let the learners detect e.g. how many times a certain grammar structure is used and why the song author is using it.
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Completing your creative class, you can add a task to stimulate the imagination and artistry of your students, preferably in groups. Such a task could be e.g. to design a conceptual idea for a music video, continue the song or write a response to the songwriter. As you see, just as you found the right song for your teaching purpose, the variety of how you can use it in the classroom is wide.
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