How to Select Songs for a Language Classroom

Topics: Language acquisition, Teaching English as a foreign language, Second language Pages: 7 (2118 words) Published: April 6, 2011
Paper II
How to Select Songs to Teach Language Skills.
Yogita Bhamare.

Songs are part of daily life of most people. The benefits of songs in ELT have been well-documented by many researchers. English language teachers can use songs to open and close their lessons, to illustrate themes and topics, to add variety, present new vocabulary or recycle known language. Practically all grammar points can be found in music text, and the texts also offer a wide variety of vocabulary, all of which can be utilized to practice the four communication skills. With some imagination, songs can be used to teach all aspects of English language. First, motivation is one of the things that can be gained by using songs in English language classroom. The addition of songs to the English language classroom as a teaching method can be a way to focus students’ attention, and produce a more committed learner. Many researchers recommend recent pop songs to enhance motivation in the younger generation. Songs deal with the whole realm of human emotions and students are often willing to sing a song in a foreign language even if they do not fully understand the meaning of the words. The use of songs creates an atmosphere of interest in the study of English and can lead from a “teacher centered” to a “student centered” class. Using music can lift the atmosphere in class, or develop a non-threatening classroom atmosphere, bring in a boost of energy and capture the children’s attention. Besides, English songs can motivate them in their quest to learn English. Secondly, songs can be catchy and re-usable. Songs are catchy and fun and ESL students will feel happy to hear them many times till they can sing along. If the teacher plays the recording of a dialogue the second time, students may get bored with it. However, songs can be reused without making students become fed up with listening. Thirdly, songs related to cultural aspects could be chosen to present to students about social situations, historical events, geographical descriptions, and so on. The use of songs gives students the opportunity to acquire a greater understanding of the culture underlying the target language. Cultural Literacy is one of the positive contributions to language learning songs can make. Songs used in English classes can shed light on interesting musical traditions in countries, but can also teach teens, young adults and adults to appreciate other cultures. For adult learners they can be a rich mine of information about human relations, ethics, customs, history, humor, and regional and cultural differences. Besides, songs can help students remember vocabulary, grammatical structures and aid in comprehending the general meaning. While listening to English songs, learners create in them the need to imitate the singers so that they can sing along with the singers. In other words, listening to English songs makes them feel that they need English and that English is an interesting subject to learn. Annotation of the Songs’ Texts

Once the best recordings of the appropriate songs have been chosen, the next step is to annotate them in order to accommodate a beginning-level student. For some songs, this simply means glossing new vocabulary; for others, where the grammar is complex, entire lines have to be translated. Further annotation includes a brief biography of the composers and performers (especially their dates and places of birth) as well as any personal information directly relevant to the song. Pedagogical Applications of the Songs

But the very practical question remains: how should these songs be incorporated into the classroom experience? There are a number of different approaches to the timing and to the manner of implementing music. In terms of sequence, after the introduction of a particular grammatical point and subsequent written exercises, instructors...
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