Teaching English through Music

The traditional approach to teaching English as a foreign language is based mostly on teaching the four language skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening, where teachers pay a great deal of attention to reading and writing. I strongly believe that the ultimate goal of the language class is communication, in which students become active and not passive participants.

Throughout history, there have been many approaches to the teaching of English. All of them have been used during a period of time and then have been replaced by new approaches that suggested new ways of helping students to reach a higher level of English as foreign language. It is important to reinforce the idea of language as a whole and to integrate the four skills as a key to creating a class environment as authentic as possible. I think English should be taught in a way in which reading and listening are mixed with oral and written expression.

First of all, using music in the English class can encourage students to identify a large number of individual words, idioms and grammatical structures that will enhance their language competence and a great deal of motivation and interest in learning English. The main objective of teaching through music is to measure the effectiveness of using music to develop integrated skills in English as a second language.  Since vocabulary is one of the key elements in learning a foreign language, teachers should focus on exploring new vocabulary to enhance communication and to motivate students to be more active in conversation. They should also take into account the fact that without grammar students can find a foreign language difficult to understand and use. Therefore, their goals should focus on getting students to understand grammar structures and vocabulary by bringing songs to class as authentic material.
Secondly, using songs and humor in class has both linguistic and cognitive value to strengthen English language acquisition. It helps to develop cross-cultural and interactive communication skills. Song lyrics will stimulate phonetics, vocabulary and improve grammar. Students are motivated and the affective filter is lowered through song-based activities combined with humorous lyrics.

Pronunciation and vocabulary have a special place in bringing together music, real life and school activities, as they are steps which guide students throughout their school years. In what concerns grammar, the Romanian curriculum for teaching a foreign language allows certain grammar structures and I strongly believe that using popular songs and artists in the grammar teaching lessons will break almost all the difficulties that both primary and secondary students deal with during the English classes.

This method also includes repetitiveness, which is so important for the process of studying because it is almost certain that the students will find the material, their favourite songs, outside the classroom. Students at this age identify with their favourite stars and are interested in what they listen to and sing. Nowadays English learning can be a lot different from the way it was when I first started learning English in the third grade. When I was a secondary student, I remember that I would always look up the lyrics of my favourite songs in a dictionary, and listening to my favourite songs made me never forget these words, even though I have hardly ever used some of them. There are many students in my school who love to listen to music most of the time on their mobile phones and find themselves in trouble when they are not allowed to listen to their favourite songs during classes. Therefore my intention is to change an annoying habit, from the teacher’s perspective, into a learning tool. Listening skills may become more intense and focused. Creativity and imagination may be stimulated in a positive class atmosphere when music is incorporated to enable optimum learning. That is why I have come to the conclusion that studying the lyrics of these songs would make my lessons more effective and hopefully, more enjoyable.

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