Songs in the classroom Music is everywhere. It?s playing at


Music is everywhere. It's playing at the mall. It's playing in the car, in the restaurants, at home. It's accessible, and crosses all social, racial, and linguistic lines. As such, it is an excellent recourse for teachers of English as a foreign language. It is particularly good for teachers who are using the ESA method of teaching, because songs fit the lesson plan for every stage of teaching. Music in the classroom is widely supported by a worldwide network of teachers as well as numerous studies showing their worth as a teaching device.

Getting students to break down their social inhibitors getting them involved in the class lesson is one of the challenges facing language teachers, particularly when said students are culturally encouraged to be reticent, or when they are adults and are afraid of judgment from their peers. Theorist Steven Krashen proposed the Affective Filter Hypothesis, which essentially states that students have factors like those that build a filter through which information must be sifted before it reaches them. So for optimal learning to take place, the filter needs to be weak. The stronger the filter, the more negative the attitude towards learning and the less likely a student is to absorb information. Practically, this means that there is a direct proportion between the level of fun and relaxation in the classroom and the level of learning taking place. Students see learning songs as entertainment rather than work, because singing together or listening to music is a fun social activity, and therefore they can be a very effective method of engagement. While some teachers have expressed concerns that students will have too much fun and get distracted from the lesson at hand, studies show that there is actually very little difference between the amount learned with music or without. The only significant difference is the level of enjoyment had by the students. There is however, the theory of multiple intelligences which implies an advantage to learning musically. Howard Gardner proposed seven different intelligences, among them musical and linguistic. According to Gardner the two run in almost structural parallels, and it follows that they would complement each other when used as study tools. Music and rhythm also promote rote memorization, which is an often boring, but necessary part of the study stage of a lesson. Additionally, songs are full of grammatical constructs just waiting to be studied. There are songs using every possible tense, and they come ready-made in conversational tones, with idiomatic expressions and the benefit of being authentic materials. Evidence shows that not only are songs useful grammatically, but they need to be sung and performed by the students to reinforce what they learn from them. They make fantastic activate lessons, again because the students really enjoy them-but also because they serve to back up what the students have learned. Plus, singing a song karaoke style is just cooler than making students repeat dialogues.

Music has a place in the classroom, and songs certainly have a place in the ESL classroom. They are adaptable to all language levels, and there is an almost infinite bank to choose from to find one that reflects whatever a teacher needs. They engage a class, and create a good atmosphere, plus they promote learning to some degree. They reinforce well, partly because they are so repetitive themselves, but also because if the lesson goes well the students will be singing them in their heads the rest of the day. Overall, they are a wonderful tool for a teacher to have.

Bibliography 1)Stansell, John. The Use of Music in Learning Languages. 14 September 2005. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 8 August 2006. http://www.mste.uiuc.edu/courses/ci407su02/students/stansell/Literatu re%20Review%201.htm 2)Ernie's EFL Songs Page. 1 September 1996. 8 August 2006. http://www.lingolex.com/userpages/music.html 3)Smith, Mark. Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences and Education. 2002. Infed Encyclopedia. 8 August 2006. http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm 4)Medina, Suzanne. The Effect of Music on Secondary Language Vocabulary Acquisition. 1993. ESL Through Music. 8 August 2006. http://www.forefrontpublishers.com/eslmusic/articles/01.htm 5)Medina, Suzanne. Songs + Technique =Enhanced Language Acquisition. 2000. ESL Through Music. 8 August 2006. http://www.forefrontpublishers.com/eslmusic/articles/03.htm 6)Medina, Suzanne. Using Music to Enhance Second Language Acquisition: From Theory to Practice. 2002. ESL Through Music. 8 August 2006. http://www.forefrontpublishers.com/eslmusic/articles/06.htm 7)Lems, Kristin. Using Music in the Adult ESL Classroom. December 2001. CAELA. 8 August 2006. http://www.cal.org/caela/esl_resources/digests/music.htm 8)Shtakser, Inna. Using Music and Songs in the Foreign Language Classroom. 2001. 8 August 2006. http://www.laits.utexas.edu/hebrew/music/music.html 9)Schoepp, Kevin. Reasons for Using Songs in the ESL/EFL Classroom. February 2001. Sabanci University. 8 August 2006. http://iteslj.org/Articles/Schoepp-Songs.html