Friday 14 January 2011

Teaching English through songs in the digital age (part 2 of 4): Ideas for using songs

Following #ELTchat from Jan 12th about Teaching English through songs: activities, resources and benefits of using songs for teaching, this is part 2 on reasons and ideas for using songs.

Why use songs?
  • Songs can be very effective to work on supra-segmental features of the language.
  • Songs as poetry.
  • Songs (and poems) a great way to look at words that share the same sounds.
  • Songs provide multiple routes to language retention: rhythm, melody, metre.
  • Songs are great for pronunciation practice especially sound linking and reduction.
  • Slow songs can help students learn intonation, elision etc.
  • Chants are good for pronunciation exercises.
  • Songs enable bottom-up/top-down processing simultaneously.
  • Songs are for great vocabulary extension / vocabulary themes.
  • Songs can prompt discussion *about* the song.
  • Songs are a great way to access slang.
  • New options to “fill-in-blank”.

Possible tasks
  1. Organize student presentations: 4-5 lines of lyrics, with translation, then short YouTube clip, then 100+ words on why they like the song.
  2. Have background music to put students at ease when doing song tasks.
  3. Have students write a song.
  4. Use songs to encourage discussions in my literature classes. For ex Animal Farm with Revolution by The Beatles.
  5. Use songs to prompt discussion *about* the song. Play a clip, students talk (Have you ever heard this, Do you like this, etc).
  6. Use two versions of songs and get student s to compare them like 2 versions of Candle in the wind .
  7. Take your PlayStation to class and use SingStar (karaoke) – great fun with teenagers.
  8. Get student s to write additional verses.
  9. Play song once, ask students to write down as many words as they can, pair them up, and ask them to create a new song with the words.
  10. Use screen capture to take pics from a song video, they can then be used for ordering/ prediction(inspired by @cheimi10).
  11. Have a Skype call with another class. (We sang for them and they sang for us! It was amazing!).
  12. The usual pre, while and post listening/viewing phases: covers mood, vocabulary and application.
  13. If there are different visuals to a music video, or advert using a song, it can be interesting to consider the differences.
  14. Play the song and ask them to design a concept for the video.
  15. Get Young Learners to mime song, teens to act out a scene of what they think happened. Improvising!
  16. Get Weird Al’s versions and compare with originals. The videos are also a good idea.
  17. Play a song as student s come into room at beginning of a class and do nothing with it; can have a great impact on general mood.
  18. Ask students to participate in song selection too for ownership and deeper engagement! Give them 5 and have them vote on top 3!
  19. Do a kind of Jukebox Jury with a handful of songs. Students have to vote for their favourite.
  20. Use instrumental music as a way to frame a guided visualisation.
  21. Ask students to draw while listening, then talk about what they drew.
  22. Use a mix of music from the countries of my students. They have to explain similarities and differences in the sentiments of the songs
  23. Let students choose a song about any global issue… sing along and discuss. When student s choose they feel empowered. They can even gap the songs themselves.
  24. Get student s to research the singers/ bands and do projects or presentations on them.
  25. Maybe ask your students to try to recreate this video.
  26. Write key words on bits of coloured paper – hand out to student s – they have to stand up when they hear their word – usually great fun!
  27. Look at songs as poetry: form, metaphor, emotion. Working extensively with lyrics post-listening can be very powerful.
  28. With appropriate groups discussing “inappropriate” lyrics might be very productive.
  29. When teaching poetry and figures of speech, start with a song…more accessible for teens.
  30. Lyrics race: teams memorize one line of written song and race across classroom/hall to recorder who writes down. At end all listen.
  31. Can be interesting to think about using and comparing cover versions with originals.
  32. Look at different versions of same song and get students to listen out for differences in voice or Instruments as with Hallelujah.
  33. Use literal songs – they’re so funny! (many on YouTube).
  34. Get student s to make up new endings or make up their own versions of songs.
  35. A nice idea with a story song : stop half way through the song and get student s to predict ending.
  36. Give students half the rhyme and get them to make up the other half- Can be hilarious (careful with teens).
  37. Scrambled lyrics: give students lyrics but put lines out of order. Students reorder, then listen.
  38. Have children do their own songs to famous tunes, works really well with rap.
  39. Play bits of songs / soundtracks and ask students to write adjectives they think of on the board – no repetition allowed.
  40. Play a soundtrack and ask students to guess the kind of film – good for slightly out-of-date so not too easy.
  41. Do grammar revision through song titles.
  42. Use songs/videos as writing prompts. Students listen/watch, then retell or answer questions.
  43. Eliciting a class story from a song or piece of music (eg Duo de las flores by Delibes).
  44. Get student s making karaoke files (they learn while doing/sharing).
  45. Use  karaoke versions of songs on YouTube and have an occasional sing off with students.
Hope you enjoyed part 2...more on the way!