Teach English in Hongqiao Zhen - Yueyang Shi

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From a young age, humans are exposed to songs. Culture to culture, these songs may vary, but the general desire to have rhythm and music seems to be innate. Teachers can use this innate quality to their advantage. Songs can be effective tools to use in the teaching of new vocabulary because of their rhythmic quality, their potential for precise words and phrasing and their ‘catchiness’. A simple song can be used to teach vocabulary to the young and old alike. One example of how a song could be used to teach vocabulary is the traditional song “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”. The teacher can begin to sing (or play a recording) of this popular song to grab the students’ attentions. The teacher can then introduce the new vocabulary of the body parts: head, shoulders, knees, toes, eyes, ears, mouth and nose. While she is explaining, she points to her own body to the corresponding parts, or simply points and elicits the response from the students (based on language abilities up to this point). By repeating the song, and encouraging students to participate, the teacher can introduce this vocabulary fairly quickly. Students can pick up these eight words in a matter of minutes using this method. Due to the nature of a song, the rhythm and melody, these words will stick with the students more readily. This technique for teaching new vocabulary has been used by myself in the classroom. Students find enjoyment in completing the actions while singing the words and they have a tendency to remember the physical association to the word. Though some would argue that action songs are only acceptable for young children, I would disagree. The teenaged students in my class, a normally more reserved group, could not resist joining in on the actions and fun once they saw the other students and the teacher singing along and laughing. There are many other ways that songs can be used to teach new vocabulary. Though students may not yet speak English, there always seems to be a few English songs that are popular with them. Taking a well-known English song, writing a few sentences on the board and going through the words together allows the students to learn colloquialisms. In most cases, fluency and listening comprehension should be the focus of such songs, given that most singers do not have perfect or correct pronunciation. However, once the students learn the words to an English song, it is very likely that it will become stuck in their head! The one major drawback to using songs for language learning is that many people are embarrassed to sing aloud in a group setting. By singing in chorus this can be somewhat avoided. Having the teacher sing first can help the students become more comfortable, especially if the teacher has an average (and not spectacular) voice. Playing audio tracks can also help, because the students’ voices can blend in with the music. One the other hand, it would be more difficult for the teacher to gauge participation and pronunciation for future consideration. In all, songs can be useful tools for the teaching of new vocabulary. Students might find themselves surprised at how easily a melody will stick in their head, and it can make memorization more enjoyable. Teachers should not be afraid to bring music into the classroom, no matter what their personal skill level is, the outcome will be more than worth the trouble.