According to Penny Ur songs are taught for a variety of purpose. Those are:
1. Songs are used mainly for the sake of the language they contain (especially composed English teaching songs are frequently used).
– For the sake of vocabulary or structures they contain;
– To get students to produce oral English by singing them.
2. Songs are taught as source of pleasure in their own right (authentic ones).
– As an aspect of English language culture;
– For fun.
Using Songs in the Classroom
Songs can be exploited in many ways. They are:
1. The close or gap fills. This is the most familiar and popular activity, and for that reason is probably over – used. However, there are many important things to bear in mind when using them, and there are many different ways to use them.
– Have a point, be it vocabulary or preposition or whatever.
– Don’t close three or more in a row
– For lower levels: give first letter, miss out words ending, give dashes for letters, or give a glossary.
– Give vocabulary clues or synonyms for the missing words.
– Get students to work in pairs to predict words before play the tape.
– Insert extra words which students then cross out as they listen.
– Change the words, as in “careful shouts” or “countless whiskies”.
– Cloze unstressed, then stressed words in the same song, and have students discuss why one is easier than the other.
– Cloze several words in a row and students have to guess not only form (adjective, adverb, noun, verb, preposition) but words, rhythm and rhyme.
2. A – B Activities
Students match beginnings and ends of lines.
3. Mixed up activities. Generally, have the lines of the song on separate strips of paper
– Students put down strips as they hear them
– Students mixed up lines / verses
– Students try to organize in advance (use prompts)
– Wall dictation
– Self dictation
– Part dictation
– Class chooses a song from their own language.
– Groups translate
– Check with other group
– Combine the best. Then work on rhyme nd rhythm.
6. Jigsaw Listening
– Groups listen to different songs with the same or different themes and peer teach vocabulary, compare.
– Listen to the song
– Students add verses of their own
– Students finish the line in each verse, then listen to the check.
– In groups, students then write their own verse.
Put random words from the song on the board. Students try and write the “tale of the song”.
– Students paraphrase the song
– Cut the song in half, students predict the other half.
– He’s got the whole world…/h/ sound
– Do I speak double Dutch to a real double Dutches…/d/ sound
– Miming verbs
– Dictionary work
– Give song word list. Songs number as they hear them
– Sound discrimination, e.g. tempted / tended
12. Song Posters
Arrange lyrics and pictures, or just lyrics, or translate.
The Effect of Songs on Language Learners
“We were given two ears but only one mouth, because listening is twice as hard as talking.”
In helping language learners acquire a foreign language teachers frequently use music. This is not surprising since the literature abounds with the positive statements regarding the efficacy of music as a vehicle for students’ acquisition. It has been reported to help learners acquire vocabulary and grammar, improve spelling, and develop the linguistic skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening (Jalongo and Bromley, 1984, McCarthey, 1985)
Music is advantageous for some other reasons. First, for most students, singing songs and listening to music are enjoyable experiences. The experience is so pleasurable that it is not uncommon for students to “pester” their teacher so that they can sing, again and again. Also, as students repeatedly sing songs, their confidence level rise. Furthermore, by engaging in pleasurable experience, learners are relaxed and their inhibition about acquiring a foreign language are lessened. Yet, while they are more relaxed, they are also more attentive than usual, and therefore, more receptive to learning. Through songs, students are exposed to authentic examples of the foreign language. Target vocabulary, grammar and patterns are modelled in context.
Using songs as a vehicle for students language learning is consistent with Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Songs can be used in any number of ways to instruct language learners.
On the other hand, students may learn to sing songs with lyrics containing keys target language structures. Clearly, there are numerous ways in which music can be used to instruct the students.