Submitted by RichGresswell on 7 February, 2013 - 14:33
Break the ice, warm up and fill in - I've found that songs are a great way to help develop routines in teaching. For instance you could kick off with this song at the beginning of a week, or equally finish off with this one. Learners become familiar with the routines and look forward with anticipation to the next song you are going to do. And they can be great homework activities too.
Notice and Practise Grammar - Grammar doesn't have to be dull. Try these songs out for going to, had better, infinitives, will, 2nd conditional and many many more. The songs could be used at any stage in the students' learning, i.e. for presentation of language, practice or recycling from previous work.
Collocation Rich - All songs are rich in collocations (words that commonly occur together). There are some obvious ones for instance for verb + noun collocation, and perhaps this song for say, tell and a few phrasal verbs thrown in for good measure. Try this song for collocations with 'out of''- my favourite.
Develop stress and rhythm - Raising awareness of stress and rhythm is very important and perhaps under-emphasised in ELT generally? Weak forms become really easy to illustrate through songs where for instance 'I have got a' becomes 'I gotta' and so on. There are some really good examples of the use of 'gonna' and 'wanna'. All songs can help develop awareness of word stress and rhythm. I get my students to listen to songs with printed songsheets and get them to underline or highlight the really stressed words, and then sing back together as a class with emphasis on the stressed sounds.
Pay attention to Sound and Spelling - Subtitles are splendid because they really do help learners to relate the words they hear to the written forms, for example I use this song to illustrate the written form of words with ING or this one for working on the 'P' sound as some learners find difficult to distinguish and articulate from the 'b' sound.
Improve reading skills - Taking a Pop-Lexical Approach to music, we might consider that we articulate language in chunks, and I think that the same goes for reading. We don't consciously read every single word, we are aware of the chunks and skip along. But second langauge learners and equally students of literacy will benefit from the subtitles in becoming more familiar with reading along to the audio tracks. I used to have a student in my class who had never been to school as a child and struggled to read and write in both first language. She did, however, know many Beatles songs off by heart (and use to sing them in class), so I' d give her Beatles songsheets to read while listening to a song at the same time.
Connect with learners - This is the most important point, I think. Students are only going to learn the words to the songs they like listening to. You could get your students to construct a class survey to find out about everyone's music interests and habits. Then you could use the songs they like - don't forget you can request songs to be subtitled here on MusicEnglish.
Action songs - These are especially good with young learners e.g. The Skeleton Dance. If you teach very young learners I really recommend keeping your eye on MusicEnglishKids.
Integrate with other creative expression e.g. drama, storytelling, poetry - I've recently been attending some storytelling sessions through creative play for very young learners. For instance in the telling of the story 'The boy that cried wolf' - The children start by making a sheep from a paper cup, cotton wool, and so on, then they sing a song about sheep - guess which one? The sheep live on a mountain with the boy shepherd, 'She''ll be coming round the mountain when she comes' ... And then a few party games like 'What time is it Mr Wolf?' It's tea-time and now I'm going to eat you. At the same time the story is building up - fantastic. What about teenagers though - how about design a film poster for this song, or write a film review?