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B.S. - Korea said:
Songs in the ClassroomSome people are gifted with excellent memories and a capacity to learn languages in general. Other people are not so fortunate, but may find themselves in a position requisite of learning another language. Such people, and I am one of them, must resort to stratagems and tricks in order to keep the information in the brain and accessible. Poems, chants, and songs are common mnemonics. The effects of music on the human mind and body have been widely studied. Although, some types of music have been found to have harmful effects, there are many types of music that can contribute to mental and physical well-being. Classical music, baroque, Mozart, and Indian in particular, have been found to be very beneficial. Music can calm and soothe. Soothing notes can increase Serotonin levels and reduce depression, while flat notes can even induce sleep. (Oak) Baroque music has been shown to relax the heart rate and pulse. Also, amplitude and frequency of brain waves, measured by an electro-encephalogram, have been shown to be affected by music. (O'Donnell, 1999) Music that calms yet activates the brain sets students up with a positive attitude, more motivation, confidence, and a clear head to take it all in, and certain types of music can actually improve the potential of learning many subjects and of learning languages (first or second) in particular. (Oak; O'Donnell, 1999) According to some studies, when music with 60 beats per minute is incorporated in the learning process, learning potential will increase as little as five times more than without music and retention holds around 92%. (Oak; O'Donnell, 1999) Personally, I do not listen to a lot of classical music, but if I go an entire day with only silence for company and the buzz of lights for background, I become extremely anxious and cannot focus on any task at hand. Music in the background may be desirable in many situations, but in the classroom, it can actually be a teaching tool. However, background is not the only manner in which music or songs can be used to teach. Singing is a often a social activity. (Mol, 2009) Singing at church and sporting events, national anthems and school songs, and karaoke bars and rooms are all examples of the sense of society that can be gained from singing together. Songs in the classroom can be used to create rapport between the class members, and a sense of community in an English classroom can give the individual members greater confidence and support in their efforts. Songs can illustrate some point of a culture or society as well as create a sense of society. Songs can also develop an interest or appreciation for other cultures. (Mol, 2009) My desire to visit certain countries, such as thailand, has arisen just because I like a song or two that originated from those countries. Songs that are repeatedly used in an English classroom can get stuck in the students' heads. (Mol, 2009) If their is some grammar principle, idiomatic use, vocabulary, etc. that is identified and recognized, the 'stuck in my head' aspect of the song can get those language aspects to stick as well. Little rhymes and songs created specifically for some language aspect or other can be particularly handy. Fifteen years after learning the German accusative and dative prepositions in song form, I can still remember them, and I still sing the song if I am having trouble remembering which is which. When songs have actions put to them, when physical movement is added to auditory and visual learning, retention is increased. Actions that specifically relate to the words or ideas expressed in the song are even more helpful. Also, action are just fun. They get the blood moving and the energy level up. I teach the young children at church, and whenever I must teach a song, I like to use actions if possible. The actions focus their attention, get them actively involved, use some of their boundless energy in an appropriate manner. Also, they enjoy learning the songs and remember them better. I remember the songs better with the actions. However, music and songs may be used in the classroom, they are helpful and beneficial teaching tools, and I plan to make use of them in my own classrooms. Bibliography Mol, Hans, Using Song in the English Classroom, Humanising Language Teaching: Supasongs, Issue 2, April 2009. ( Oak, Manali, Effects of Music on the Mind and Brain, ( O'Donnel, Laurence, Music and the Brain, Music Power, 1999. (