The increase of the levels of the students’ autonomy in the learning process of a foreign language is an important point of reference in the new transformation since the current teaching for foreign languages, with a precise aiming to communication. One of the characteristic of communicative orientation is the transfer of attention from the teacher to the student, to his skills, needs and interests. It is clear that through the actions of singing and listening to music it is made the association with leisure, with entertainment, given that such activities could be enjoyable and motivating and may help to create a more attractive school environment and develop relationships within group of students. This type of activities can fulfill the essential educational functions.
To develop the communication skills, the song is a method very useful and positive at the same time as it gives to students the opportunity to express themselves in terms both individually and collectively.
By using the song in the foreign language lessons is aimed to developing language skills: comprehension, production, dialogue, working on the texts of the songs.
Strengths in the use of the song in Italian language lesson
1. Song facilitates memorizing words and grammatical structures.
The main feature of listening to music is based on the frequent reiteration of the same fragment – chorus (repeats the same sounds, the same vocabulary and the same grammatical structures). This creates a „spontaneous” learning situation without the student make an extraordinary effort to acquire the linguistic knowledge.
2. The song reinforces cultural contents
If we think about using a song to highlight cultural issues contained therein: civilization, history, geography, customs and folk traditions, the song is an authentic material through which the teacher may focus on a particular historical moment, for example the current songs ”protest” or ”civil commitment” specific to the 70s in Italy.
This can be a stimulus for students, sparking their interest in another culture, for the political history of any other country.
3. The song allows the development of interdisciplinary
The student’s general knowledge is enriched by the development of interdisciplinary perspectives and proposing to combine the song with other art forms like cinema, painting, to distinguish the differences and similarities between them. Also, dance, involving body language, allows the exercise through various activities of the vocal tract and the dramatization of both the text and the context.
4. The song allows efficient pronunciation
Especially in the first years of study, learning the correct pronunciation can be more effective by using songs in lessons being facilitated by their own rhythmic aspects. But this will be exposed as a disadvantage too, a weak point in terms of the rhythm of a song. The teacher, before proposing its own song to the class (especially primary) will have to take care that the music should not dominate the song and the rhythm of words must be clearly perceived and reproduce the best possible the rhythm of speech.
5. The song promotes positive student relationships with peers
It develops in the class group positive social dynamics, related to the same interests, knowledge and passions. The student is thus able to establish relationships based on trust and communication both with adults and with colleagues, participating in the life of the class and showing their availability to the others and the interest in the study of Italian language. By proposing activities organized on workshops, the song may become a link stimulating language and social development by sharing common goals, by enhancing the awareness of mutual support and collaboration within the team.
The song also provides the opportunity for shy students to express themselves within the group, when reproducing the choir they are considered „protected” from the psychological point of view. Through the song, the shy student finally feels being a group member, has a well-defined role in the activity proposed by the teacher.
Playful aspect is the fundamental principle of the overall development of the student, and through the song, the student successfully overcomes the difficulties in integrating into the group class.
6. The song emphasizes multidisciplinary global activity
Using simultaneous sensory stimuli such as hearing and sight (using a video when listening to the song, showing suggestive images or the song story) fosters learning by activating linguistic, cognitive, affective and emotional stimuli, the teacher carrying to adapt the material submitted in depending on the level of competence of students.
7. The song promotes interaction
Using the song in the Italian lesson offers great opportunities for the dynamic interaction between student – student or teacher – student, especially through completing tasks by students, under the teacher’s constantly guidance, which precedes, accompanies and follows the song’s itself listening.
Weaknesses in the use of songs in the Italian lesson
The true didactic efficiency through the use of songs in the Italian lesson depends on teacher’s awareness mediation: if they’re not managed well enough, the potentialities for learning’s stimulation through song, may become really counterproductive. What should the teacher do to avoid these cases?
1. First of all, the material included in students’ worksheets must be organized with high precision. The proposed activities must be motivational and pleasant for students. The teacher must have instruments for a better fructification of the activities which will be developed based on the song. The classroom must be equipped with an efficient sound installation, thus ensuring a high audio quality for the presented song.
2. The choice of songs is also depending on their interests but also on the students’ skills, so they do not lose their interest in solving the tasks which may be too easy or conversely, too difficult in relation to their knowledge and skills.
3. The time granted for work based on the song’s text must not be extended too much because there is a risk that the students may consider boring the exaggerated repetition of the chorus or the whole song.
4. The isorythmy, the identity of a rhythmic musical compositions, represents an essential factor in choosing the didactic material by the teacher. The identity or the differentiation rapport between the “speaking” rhythm and the “singing” rhythm represents a problem when it occurs emphasizing words or extends their pronunciation. Words are extended or shortened depending on musical necessities, tone and timbre are different, so the rhythm of the lyrics is different to the rhythm of the speaking, the intonation is replaced by the melody. These “alterations” combined with a musical accompaniment which “cover” the words are criteria which the teacher must take into account when he decides to propose a particular song as teaching material.
5. The teacher is the one who has to select the songs that he will propose for the lesson, respecting the qualifications of students and considerating the linguistic and grammatical objectives he predetermines. In this way, the teacher must use songs where the pronunciation is clear and rhythmic, and the length of the words sung should be as much as possible the same with that of the speaking, thus presenting to the students an accessible and motivating material.
6. An important factor in choosing a certain song is the age of the students. The teacher must know his students, to propose activities to them in order to look closely their interests, passions and their needs. A song which for a certain category of age , such as primary, may be considered for students in secondary schools being too „childish”, with too many playful elements, so they will be uninterested and they will consider that the teacher doesn’t know them well enough and he can’t offer them an appropriate support in relation to their physical and mental development. On the contrary, using a song with a complicated text, which presents cultural aspects which can exceed the comprehension of students, may discourage them, triggering in them an inhibition mood or a discomfort mood.
Using a song as a way of learning – teaching adapts amazing to all of the current practices and it contributes to motivate and stimulate the students’ desire to learn, thus strengthens the close relationship between the student and the foreign language he is learning.
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