miércoles, 15 de octubre de 2008

The M U S I C

"..there is strong evidence supporting the use of music in the ESL classroom. Language and music are tied together in brain processing by pitch, rhythm and by symmetrical phrasing. Music can help familiarize students with connections and provides a fun way to acquire English."
Bob Lake

Songs are a good resource for English Teaching:
They are funny.
They promote mimics, gestures, etc. associated to the meaning.
They are good to introduce suprasegmental phonetics (stress, rhythm and intonation)
Students play a participative role.
They can be applied to comprehension stages (listening) or production (singing).
There are songs for all levels and ages.
Students learn English very easily, through echoic memory.

Anyway, if you want to use songs in your class, it is not enough to play a cd or to say 'Let's sing a song'. We have to introduce activities to promote student's comprehension and acquisition of the rhythm. How can we do that without the students getting bored? There are good ideas.


1. Hands up!! Students have to put their hands up when they hear the word X. We can increase the difficulty: 'When you hear the word 'tomato' put your hands up. When you hear the word 'carrot' close your eyes'. (We can add a new request each time, the activity will become a funny 'dance' at the end).
It is good to use meaningful gestures if possible. For example: 'Make the monkey when you hear the word 'monkey'.

2. The chairs. Put some chairs in a circle. All the students sit on a chair but one, who will stay in the middle. Put flash cards under the chairs. There must be two flash-cards of each word (two monkeys, two lions, two elephants, etc)
Now, play the music. When they hear the word 'monkey', the two students sitting on the chairs with the monkeys have to stand up and sit down on each other's chair, but the student in the middle will try to get one of their chairs. There will be always one student without a chair.

3. Fill in the gaps. The most common and traditional. Students are given a copy of the lyrics and they have to fill in the gaps.

(Activities that make possible to play the song many times without the students getting bored. These activities promote an unconscious learning of the song. They are useful if we want the students to sing the song after a few lessons)

1. Pass the ball. Put all the chairs in a circle. The students sit down. Choose one student to start the game and give him/her a ball (or any object). Then play the music. They have to pass the ball following the rhythm. (Each student has to pass the ball to the student on his/her right). Suddenly stop the music. The student who has got the ball when the music stops has to stand up and answer a question. If the answer is right, s/he can sit down again, and the game continues. Otherwise, s/he will be eliminated.

2. The ring. For very young children. The traditional ring, dancing in a circle, falling down, etc.

3. The cage. We make a ring like the traditional one, with young children. The difference is that we put a small circle on the floor (the cage). We play the music and we start to circle. When the music stops, the student in the 'cage' will go to the middle of the ring, and so on.

Students love listening to music in the language classroom. Music can provide schools with benefits such as:

Stimulating both hemispheres of the brain.
Providing a relaxing, calming, soothing working environment
Reducing and managing stress levels of pupils, students and teachers
Enhancing concentration and stimulating the learning experience
Reducing hyperactivity and psychological distress in classes

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