Songs in the classroom Music is universal; it breaks down

Music is universal; it breaks down language barriers. It is attention grapping; repetitive and therefore a useful linguistic and cultural learning medium for language learning and teaching. Using songs in the language classroom is appealing to all ages, cultures and types of learners.

There is a plethora of songs available to use as a language resource for the language classroom. Songs can be exploited for various language aims in language teaching. Some examples are using songs for: a) pure listening practice; b) to discuss the emotive feelings the song evokes; c) to focus on and learn discrete language items; d) practicing writing new stanzas to the song etc. A song supplements the lesson and relieves the students from the regular course book.

I have chosen to use the song: Don't be Stupid by Shania Twain for listening practice in lesson. This lesson can be used for a group of Pre-intermediate to Advanced adult or teenage learners. This lesson focuses on the way language, in particular adjectives, evokes certain emotions. The content is somewhat controversial because it the content of the song involves the informal use of adjectives language such as stupid, ridiculous, absurd as in Don't be stupid and freak out and so needs to be handled with sensitivity. However this informal use lends to the interest of the lesson; it is useful for learners to investigate how emotive language can be used in English. Teenagers especially will appreciate the use of emotive if shown how to use them correctly and how it is used in pop songs.

The song chosen is upbeat and contains clear enunciation so it is a good example for listening and discussion practice. The teacher should allow time for students to discuss other words of interest in the song.

The lesson plan is included below.

Lesson plan

Objective: For the students to practice listening to idiomatic expressions in a popular song

Materials: Don't be Stupid by Shania Twain


Step 1: Write the word Stupid on the board. Ask the students what the word stupid means and how it is used in speaking. Then write Don't be Stupid on the board and ask the students when they would say this in conversation. If they don't respond with suitable answers, supply them with suitable answers. Step 2: Tell them that they are going to listen to a pop song titled Don't be Stupid. Talk about the singer first and tell the students a few things about Shania Twain. Find out if the students know anything about the singer.

Step 3: Play the song through and the students listen to it.

Step 4: Hand out copies of the lyrics to the students and ask them to listen to the song a second time as they read the lyrics.

Step 5: Ask the students who the singer is singing about. Ask them to guess the meaning of song. Point to the chorus and get the students to read it and guess the meaning of phrases underlined. Explain the meanings the use of the phrases if the students don't know them. Give other examples of where the adjectives can be used. Point out that the singer is using a playful; almost mocking tone to berate her boyfriend therefore she uses strong adjectives such as the ones in the chorus.

Chorus Don't be stupid ' you know I love you

Don't be ridiculous ' you know I need you

Don't be ridiculous ' you know I want you Don't be impossible

Step 6: Play the song again and get students to listen to other phrases in the song such as the third degree, take a pill and don't freak out. Explain these phrases to the class. Step 7: Ask the students to work in pairs and to use other adjectives of emotion, such as weird, childish, foolish and silly, to make up a new stanza for the song. The students can use their own expressions and adjectives if they want. Play the song softly in the background while the students work together.

Bibliography 1.Twain, S. 1999. Don't be Stupid in the C.D Come on over. Universal music.

2.Harmer, J. 2001. The practice of English language teaching. Chapter 16, P. 242 - 244. Longman.

3.Scrivener, J. 2005. Learning teaching. Chapter 16, P. 338 - 340. Macmillan.