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Teaching English with Songs and Music

Edutainment includes 17 song lyric work sheets with music tape, it is highly suitable for these ideas.

Here are some great teaching tips for songs. Reprinted by permission.

Some peple have asked me for some of the acivities I do with Music in class. Here are some of them:

BLANKS

There are many ways blanks can be used. I give students lyrics with some blanks (specially the parts that have to do wtih the subject we're covering in class). They listen to song once, at the second time they fill in the blanks - as much as possible. Finally, they listen to it another time to check if they got the balnks filled in correctly. This activity takes up to 20 mins.

Blanks can be very helpful when teaching subjects like Simple Past. Pick up a song that has may verbs in the past tense, blank them out and give in parenthesis the verbs in their base form. Have the students complete the song rewriting the past tense of each verb. This will help them memorize the past form of regular and irregular verbs. (can be used with any verb tense)

Teaching ESL in a non-English speaking country is a challenge. Compared to some jobs, this one needs innovation and creativity for you to be as effective as possible. Even advanced students sometimes tend to go their mother-tongue in the classroom. So I found a way to keep them in touch with English even outside the classroom: I asked them to bring in a song they liked, a song of the moment. I put some blanks in the lyrics and they didn't get everything after the first time they listened to it. So I had them take the copies home and try to listen to that song anywhere possible (in the car, CDs, anywhere) and bring it in to me the in the following week with the blanks filled in. I also told them to try not to look for the lyrics anywhere else but try to listen to the song itself. It worked out pretty well

STRIPS OF PAPER

Depending on the lenght of the song, you can cut the lyrics in strips of paper and have a contest. I always divide my classes in two groups. So the group that gets the lyrics with less mistakes after the second time (even after the first time, depending on the level of the class), gets a treat, or whatever you feel like rewarding them with.

RELAXATION

I usually bring in some celtic, classic or just instrumental music on test days and put it on very low. I noticed that when this procedure was done, students relax more and feel more comfortable during the test.

GUIDED FANTASY

I usually do this procedure on a frist-day class, to "break the ice". Nothing personnal, but for this procedure I use ENYA (who sings a little bit of folk and celtic music). I prepare a text, very imaginative, something that can take many different points of view, and read it out loud while the song's being played. Students have their eyes closed and I ask them to imagine exactly what I'm reading and let their imagination flows along with the song. This is very relaxing!

If anyone needs some more suggestions, let me know.

Carlos Silva (EduHerndon@aol.com) Herndon,VA

This information was provided from a workshop presented by Joan Blankmann, from Northern Virgina Community College, Annandale Campus

1. HOW DIFFICULT IS THE SONG? Some factors to note are speed (fast or slow), the clarity of the vocalization, the amount of repetition, the vocabulary and metaphors. For a cloze task:

If the song has simple, repetitive lyrics, you can blank out more words;

If the song is more difficult, you will want to blank out fewer words;

An idea to try: blank out only the beginning or only the end of a phrase.

2. WHAT IS THE PROFICIENCY LEVEL OF THE CLASS?

For a cloze task:

If the song is for beginning level class, you wil want to blank out fewer words,but if it's for a more advances class you can blank out more words.

3. WHAT KIND OF ENGLISH LESSON DO THE LYRICS SUGGEST?

Simple, repetitive songs often contain a resurrent gramatical pattern.

More difficult songs contain interesting vocabulary and idioms.

Look for homophones, homographs and homonyms, as well as typical fast speech pronunciation.

Look for conversation and writing topics. Is there a message, theme, or story that students can discuss, explain, debate, and write about?

** What a coincidence. I just did a similar thing with my student here in Japan recently. I was searching for a meaningful, fun lesson plan when I remembered she told me she wanted to learn English in order to understand American songs, movies, etc. I decided to bring a tape of the country singer Kenny Rogers because he usually enunciates clearly while using a good mix of American pronunciation and common speach forms. My medthod was only to play parts of the song and explain the vocabulary bit by bit until she understood the whole. Then I will give her a copy of the songs she's learned so she can continue to practice listening for familiarity. I like your extra touch. It helps me expand on what I did.

Thanks so much. Regards. Doug Premoe
Online College Degree Program

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Ian, Thanks for the activity. Using music in the classroom is a great way to liven up listening activities. I'd like to add a couple of steps that I've used with success to your process though to make the listening activites more effective.

1. Start with a focusing activity. A focusing activity is anything that will get students thinking about the subject of the song(listening.) As native learners, we do this naturally. We make guesses by looking at any pictures that come with it, we look at the title, we read the first(topic) sentence and make guesses about what is to come. These skills need to be learned in a new language, they don't come naturally. In addition, if the students have made guesses beforehand, it is much easier to get them involved in looking for the answers to their guesses.

Here are some examples of pre-listening focusing lessons.

A. Speculation: Put the title of the song on the board. Have students in pairs make guesses about what the song is about and write them down on a piece of paper. Then have students pass their papers a group to the left and have them read them. Students must guess if the other students guess is the same or different than theirs.

B. Pictures: Get a picture of the performers. Have students make up a story about them.(Or) get a picture that relates to the subject matter of the song. Students must guess about the song.

C. Take vocabulary from the song. Step 1:Put eight or ten words at random on your black/white board. Students get up and ask each other what the words mean. Step 2: Have students in groups of 3 or 4 write a quick story that uses the words. Step 3: Play the tape. Students must shout STOP any time they hear one of the new vocab words. First student to shout correctly gets a point for their team.

D. Cut the song into strips. Give each student one strip to memorize. Students put the strips in their pockets. Students get up and tell each other their part of the song, without looking at their part or showing their part to anyone else. Then you can do many things: you could have students listen to the tape and put down the names of their classmates in the order they hear the parts from before(pretty hard) to having the students take out their strips, listen to the song and then put them on a table in order as they hear their part of the song.

E. Write up a set of questions around the topic. Have students ask each other the questions. Or, more advanced, choose two songs of a similar theme(or first and second half of the song), split the class into two teams. Have each group listen to their part and make up questions. Trade tapes and students just listen to the other group's song. Finally pair each student with a member of the opposite team and have them take turns asking their questions.

There are tons of things you can do to get the students involved. The most important point is to provide preliminary material to the listening itself so that students have a clear, concrete reason for listening. This will work much better than the abstract "'cause it's good fer ya".

Happy teaching! Prentice Berge

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After reading the book Superlearning 2000, I became a fan of using music in the classroom. At first I only used it with my adult learners, but soon realized that it works equally well with younger learners as well.

Superlearning music is the same music that is used in Suggestopedia (which is Baroque Largo selections for you classical music aficionados out there). There have been many studies done about the affects of 60-80 beat per minute music on the brain , one of the original studies was done right here in Japan by Professor Hideo Seki of Tokai University.

I have been using the music of Pachelbel, Handel, Corelli, Manfredini, Scarlatti, Locatelli, Vivaldi, Bach, Albinoni, and others, as background music. Usually its played very low and the students hardly notice it. However, I believe it is great for the calming effect it produces as well as for the improvement in concentration (for them and me).

Truly, Duane P. Flowers
Japan
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IN CONCLUSION:
You can do lots of things with the song lyrics. Fill in blanks, ask and answer questions about the lyrics or about the different situations or characters in the song, write a letter to one of them, send an answer to the person refered to in the song, rewrite it as a story, write a story which began before the story in the song and led to it, write story which will continue after the song, change words ( adjectives, adverbs, names, places, feelings, etc.), invent new lyrics for the melody, "draw" the different stanzas and of course enjoy listening to it or singing it.
--Marcela Lococo

All the songs on "Edutainment" are classics and have been at #1 on the charts. The students love these songs.
IE Hewitt


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