According to experts, music “improves concentration, improves memory, brings a sense of community to a group, motivates learning, relaxes people who are overwhelmed or stressed, makes learning fun, helps people absorb material.” (www.englishclub.com/teaching-tips/music-classroom.htm) Recent studies show that the result of teaching a foreign language by using songs is fluency in communication.
Listening to songs in English helps students hear the native pronunciation, which can improve the ability of hearing English. Furthermore, music gives words a natural rhythm and helps language learners improve their pronunciation. Also, songs are part of the culture, history and language of a country and singing make learners become more confident about their fluency, even if they do not speak that language very well.
Although this strategy might be argued by many, nowadays most students are influenced by their favourite music and singers, so it is a fun and interesting way of teaching and learning vocabulary. “For teaching vocabulary, the most appropriate activities are probably writing dialogues using words of a song, dictating a song, using a song for gap-fill, cloze, or for correction, integrating songs into project work, practicing pronunciation, intonation, and stress.” (is.muni.cz/th/s1aym/Teaching_Vocabulary_through_Music.pdf,Dagmar Siskova, 2008, page 22.) Other activities through which songs can be included in lessons are:
1. Creating booklets with illustrations of lyrics;
2. Karaoke, singing along, lip-sync video performances;
3. Dancing and choreography – moving body parts on music;
4. Rewriting a song, changing lyrics, in a creative way or by replacing parts of speech with other parts of speech;
5. Gap filling the words missing from the lyrics of a song;
6. Making comic strips out of songs that tell stories;
7. Ordering the verses;
8. Writing new verses to add to the song etc.
Another advantage of this strategy is “that song lyrics cover vast themes and topics (which) means that the vocabulary the students are exposed to is immense.” (is.muni.cz/th/s1aym/Teaching_Vocabulary_through_Music.pdf, Dagmar Siskova, 2008, page 22.) Furthermore, due to the fact that music is emotional, it helps students understand the lyrics, even if they do not understand the meaning of words. So, they learn new words within a context.
To sum up, teaching and learning activities that include music make students feel more comfortable, by exposing them to things that they enjoy – favourite songs, bands or singers, enabling them to learn new vocabulary, sometimes without realising. We could say that this strategy is also therapeutic, because it is relaxing and provides a calm environment, similar to the one at home, making English vocabulary learning fun and interesting.
1. is.muni.cz/th/s1aym/Teaching_Vocabulary_through_Music.pdf, Dagmar Siskova, 2008.