Songs in classroom Learning a second language through
Learning a second language through music. K. Sarah-Jane Murray. Academic Exchange Quarterly 9.2 (Summer 2005): p161(5). “Songs provide us with a window into a world that is not our own, a world that we glimpse and remember thanks to the power of music.” (Murray) It’s the age of technology, a generation of cell phone carrying, ipod listening, x-box playing, and internet fanatics. The necessary next step for the pedagogical world is to incorporate this technology into their teaching repertoire. Music in particular is everywhere, on the radio, television, in movies, etc. Incorporating music in the curriculum for students learning another language would be beneficial and engaging for the students. Music is truly universal and can be used as an instrument to teach grammar, vocabulary, culture, listening skills and so on. “Songs can motivate and inspire students—who often define themselves, within their own culture (s), by the music they enjoy—thereby providing language learners with a unique entry point into the evolving mentality and traditions of a foreign country” (Murray). The problem is that many L2 (or second language) classrooms use music only sporadically. There is a plethora of activities that students can do when it comes to music. Students can make out the lyrics, pull vocabulary from the lyrics, pinpoint the instruments used in the song and compare/contrast it to their culture, use the lyrics to provide sentence structure and grammar exercises, as well as speak about the cultural influence of such songs. According to Murray, the way in which to assure that these activities are beneficial to your students is to use music on a regular basis. The author suggests choosing a popular song and allowing the students to become more familiar with other genres. There could be a song of the month or a song of the week so that the students will be able to learn the words and tune. If it is stored in their long-term memory they are more likely to benefit from the grammar and vocabulary that come out of the song. The song should also be made available to the students outside of class. The students can research the vocabulary and grammar of the song, thereby increasing their word pool as well as improving their grammar. They will be able to distinguish between what sounds right and what sounds wrong. The students can also discuss the lyrical choices and find synonyms in a thesaurus that certain words could be replaced with. The students will also learn pronunciation, which will help them to feel more confident when speaking. They will learn the rhythm of the language and tune their ears to a new way of speaking. The possibilities are endless. Music is the perfect way to keep the students engaged and interested in learning another language. The reason to use songs in the classroom setting is that “analyzing songs—especially carefully selected ones—allows students to develop the same group of skills that are required during the analysis of poems, short stories, and even novels” (Murray). Music simply assures that developing these skills will be fun.
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