Using Music in the Classroom!

Teacher Nathaniel’s music option has become a popular class at Lexis Noosa….

There is strong evidence supporting the use of music in the English Language teaching classroom.  Music can change the atmosphere in the room within seconds. It is linked to brain processing by pitch, rhythm and by symmetrical phrasing. Songs provide a valuable source of authentic language. Songs sung in English are listened to around the world and students can often feel real progress in their level of English when they can begin to sing along to the chorus or even just to be able to separate what at first seemed to be a constant stream of words!

In the music option, students are given a number of different tasks to access and learn the new vocabulary such as:

  • Classic gap-fill: Every language student at some point has been given a song to listen to and the lyrics with gaps in for them to fill in as they listen. This activity is not as simple as it sounds and before making one yourself think about why you’re taking out certain words. It may be better to take out all the words in one group, such as prepositions or verbs, and tell students what they should be listening out for. Another option is to take out rhyming words. Don’t be tempted to take out too many words, eight or ten is normally enough. To make the task easier you could provide the missing words in a box at the side for the students to select, or you could number the gaps and provide clues for each number.
  • Spot the mistakes: Change some of the words in the lyrics and as students listen they have to spot and correct the mistakes. As with the gap-fill limit the mistakes to a maximum of eight or ten and if possible choose a word set. You could make all the adjectives opposites for example. Another example of this for higher levels is to show the students the real lyrics and you correct the English and make it proper! E.g. ‘gonna’ change to ‘going to’ ‘we was’ change to ‘we were’ etc. This is a good way to focus on song language.
  • Order the verses: With low levels this is a very simple activity. Chop up the lyrics of the song by verse and give a small group of students the jumbled verses. As they listen they put them in order.
  • Discussion: Certain songs lend themselves to discussions and you can use the song as a nice lead in to the topic and a way to pre-teach some of the vocabulary
  • Write the next verse: Higher levels can write a new verse to add to a song. Focus on the patterns and rhyme of the song as a group and then let students be creative. If they are successful, the new verses can be sung over the top of the original! Norah Jones’ Sunrise was a good one for this.

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