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F.C. - Canada said:
Songs in the ClassroomUsing songs in the EFL classroom is a great way to help establish a relaxed and fun environment, as well as engage in culture. Music and group singing in particular, are an innate part of society -- people are known to sing at parties, events, religious services, school, in the car, or while taking a shower. Although some students may be reluctant at first, if the teacher is enthusiastic about it, usually the class will soon follow (which is the case for most activities!). In his 2001 article, Schoepp summarizes Lo and Li (1998) who assert ?that songs provide a break from classroom routine, and that learning English through songs develops a non-threatening classroom atmosphere in which the four language skills can be enhanced.? He goes on to list these skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Schoepp is an advocate of using music in the classroom and is able to support this with thorough research into the logical, cognitive and linguistic rationales. Just how and in what kinds of lessons can songs be incorporated? I believe that they can be used anywhere in the lesson -- during the Engage, Study or Activate stages! For example, the ?Hello Song? (of which there are several variations floating around!) can be used in the Engage portion of the lesson with school-aged students, to get them familiar with informal greetings. For the Study stage, the lyrics of a song could be examined in a group discussion or listening and reading comprehension skills developed via a worksheet. During the Engage section, further lyrics can be written to a familiar tune, or a roll play or story can be developed around a particular song. In addition, beginners, intermediate and advanced students of English can certainly still appreciate music, as well as children and adults alike. To be sure, the teacher will want to choose songs more likely to appeal to a particular age group; however, I have found adults who claim that nursery rhymes are a lot of fun, so feel free to mix it up a little if it seems appropriate! One great advantage of songs is that unlike dialogues, they are usually intended to be repetitive in nature. In addition, although some people claim that deciphering sung text is more challenging than the spoken word, others find it easier because of the repetition, and also because most songs do not go as quickly as speech! Regardless, it will be useful to look for good recordings, where diction is both accurate and clear. What kinds of songs are out there and where does one find them? The internet makes doing such research quite easy, although it certainly is nice to start a personal or school library (if there isn?t one already!). There are volumes of campfire, sing-along, folksongs, and holiday favourites, and indeed, these are all good places to start looking. It is likely that some of your students will recognize familiar tunes (and MANY popular songs have been translated into foreign languages!). I enjoy excerpting choruses because usually they are catchy, easy to remember and not very long. In addition, narrative songs are always fun because they tell a story (?Puff the Magic Dragon?) and in some cases the narrative can be incorporated into other aspects of the lesson plan! Apart from purely having a sing-along, there are other ways to use music in the EFL classroom. Craig Peterson outlines several listening activities with song lyrics themselves, where students must listen carefully in order to either unscramble the text or complete a fill-in-the-blank worksheet (where some of the words are provided, while one particular group, for example verbs, are omitted). A creative teacher will be able to develop additional tasks, such as taking a narrative song and asking students to re-compose the story (the Beattles ?Yellow Submarine? might be a good candidate for such an experiment!) while keeping the chorus! As the reader can see, there are a myriad number of ways that songs can liven up a lesson! A final reason why they have such appeal is because of the authenticity of the material, especially with popular songs. students generally enjoy engaging with ?real? material; it increases their confidence and is a motivating factor when learning a new language! With a little creativity and experimentation, even a new teacher will be able to incorporate songs into their lesson plans on a regular basis. Bibliography: Peterson, Craig. 7 Ways to Use Songs and Music in the ESL - EFL Classroom. http://www.eslteachersboard.com/cgi-bin/lessons/index.pl?read=1693 (accessed March 18, 2011). Schoepp, Kevin. 2001. ?Reasons for Using Songs in the ESL/EFL Classroom.? The Internet TESL Journal. Vol. 8, no. 2 (February). http://iteslj.org/Articles/Schoepp-Songs.html, (accessed March 18, 2011)

 

 

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