Teach English in Bailizhou Zhen - Yichng Shi

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Music is an art form that is often said to transcend language and cultural barriers. Despite not understanding the lyrics, people around the world are still able to connect with songs sung in a foreign language. However, exposure to songs in a foreign language can often be more than causal listening and instead acts as a catalyst that sparks interest in a new language or culture. This phenomenon can be seen in the recent Korean Wave or “Hallyu” that has spread Korean music world wide over the last decade or so. Through this “Hallyu wave” people were exposed to the Korean culture, music and beauty products. Many were even inspired to visit the country themselves, thus boosting tourism in the country. With all of the positive effects of the globalized music industry, how can this be utilized in the classroom to help students learn their target language, such as English, in a fun and engaging way? There are countless combinations of levels and ages that a teacher may come into contact with while teaching ESL, and it can be difficult to determine the best way to engage the students and keep them interested. Music is an indispensable tool that can be carefully handpicked by the teacher to match the age group and language level of the students. Songs with simple content such as those used in TV shows like “Pink Fong” or classic shows such as “Sesame Street” could be matched to a group of young learners to liven up the class or be used in a movement-based activity to dispel energy. Similar to this, songs can easily be adapted to many different types of learning goals and lesson plans. For example, the older, but still useful “School House Rock” series that many students in the US grew up on, has songs with accompanying video that teach grammar topics such as conjunctions. This takes what could be a very dull topic and puts it to a catchy rhyme with songs that are easy to sing along to. For older or more advanced students, recent and/or current popular songs could be used to tackle more advanced activities. Students could be given a listening activity based on the song or be given a more complicated task of analyzing the content. Activities like this would give the students the ability to learn important language topics while interacting with something more relatable like music. Students could also be encouraged to research target language music to listen on their own, in order to aid in studying. Even more than simple language learning, students of all levels have the ability to build on existing knowledge and also engage in learning about the culture, or even history of the target language through music and gain more depth to their language learning experience. In conclusion, using songs in the classroom provides students with a dynamic and relatable method of learning that departs from more structured worksheets and reading passages. Music not only allows students to learn the language in a fun way but also gives them the opportunity to learn about more complex topics that come with learning a new language.