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Songs in the classroom Music, according to R. M. Rilke, is
Music, according to R. M. Rilke, is 'language where all language ends.' Being thus, it is one of the most useful tools of humanity. We, as humans, often complain that words do not suffice in accomplishing what we attempt to portray. Music, however, can reach farther than words into the spectrum of life. What better tool exists, then, to ease language learners into the world of words' The use of music in EFL classrooms motivates learners, enhances retention, and makes learning easier.
Music is an art to which every single human can relate. There are as many varieties of music as there are people, so every person will enjoy some type of music. In a recent study of ESL students, 'listening to a song ranked number one for enjoyable [activities]' among students (Lems 15). Teachers can take advantage of this common interest by incorporating music of all kinds into lessons in order to motivate students. If a student sense that material is relevant to his or her life or interests, he or she will be more excited to learn because they will understand how that learning fits into the schema of his or her own prior knowledge. Using music like this 'is a great way to activate vocabulary and get students thinking in the right direction' (Beare). Once students are paying attention, they will retain more of the information presented.
Using music throughout a lesson, and not simply as an introduction to the lesson, will allow students to experience the benefits of musical learning. Orlova proposes that music can teach students about culture, incite students to speak more in class, and instill in them an appreciation for art (1). As it is woven into many aspects of learning, it will become a prominent feature of the student's learning process. Due to the rhythmic and repetitive nature of songs, knowledge will be retained more readily. Several studies have been conducted suggesting proof of this phenomenon. In one study, 'students in a French immersion program in Canada who learned music concepts and patterns daily, along with their language study did significantly better in both foreign language study and music study than their peers who did not study music,' and in another study, second grade ELLs who were taught vocabulary using supplementary music and pictures learned more words than those in groups using one, or neither, of the artistic enhancements' (Lems 15). Music reinforces all stages of learning by allow for repetition, imagery, rhythm, and relevancy.
Music, in addition to motivating and reinforcing student learning, broadens the classroom experience as it introduces and enhances all aspects of knowledge. Songs introduce discussion topics, promotes discussion, teaches vocabulary, teaches intonation and grammar, aids in listening comprehension skills, and promotes writing skills (Orlova). Because music treats a wide variety of human topics, deals with varying emotions and levels of language, and is demographically and culturally appealing, teachers can use songs as a springboard into every area of the EFL classroom. Teachers can use song lyrics to begin discussions or writing prompts or use rhythm to enhance choral recitation of vocabulary or conjugation. Students can also learn about each other as they share their own favorite music with the rest of the class. Music as a whole creates a positive classroom environment that promotes individual student interest, enjoyment of the learning process, retention of knowledge, and a sensitivity to the universality of human expression.
Beare, Kenneth. 'Music in the Classroom.' English as 2nd Language. July 2003. .
Lems, Kristin. 'Music Works: Music for Adult English Language Learners.' New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. 107(2005): 13-21.
Orlova, Natalia. 'Helping Prospective EFL Teachers Learn How to Use Songs in Teaching Conversation Classes.' University of Jan Evangelist Purkyne. < http://iteslj.org/ Techniques /Orlova-Songs.html>.