Teach English in Jinfeng Zhen - Chongqing

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Songs in the ClassroomSongs are widely regarded as a useful and valuable tool in the classroom. Songs can be used effectively with any age group or language level. They can be used in a variety of ways and are useful in teaching grammar points, building vocabulary, studying sentence structure, and appreciating the rhythm of the language. Because songs are authentic materials they can be motivating to learners. Music is an excellent way to keep the classroom atmosphere relaxed and comfortable and, therefore, one in which students feel comfortable to participate and learn. Using songs in teaching English allows for the development of reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Children and young learners benefit from songs that are repetitive and lend themselves to the addition of motions and physical movement in general. Adding movements to songs enhances the student?s ability to retain the vocabulary and structures he is learning. Actions also make songs more meaningful and help to create a context for the language (Saricoban & Metin, 2000). Children have shorter attention spans than adults and songs and physicality can liven up a classroom, engaging students and providing a break from the classroom routine (Schoepp, 2001). Teenage students are often familiar with English popular music. Bringing these songs into the classroom gives the opportunity to capitalize on their existing interest in English-language material. Music also provides an effective view of the culture which produces it and so it is a good way to put students in touch with the cultures of the language they are studying (Saricoban & Metin, 2000). Allowing the students to take part in the selection of the songs is also beneficial in heightening interest and engaging the students in their learning. With higher level students songs can be a particularly effective tool for studying grammar points. Studying English grammar through songs puts the language in context, makes the material more easily accessible, and makes acquisition of the concepts concrete. Gap fills, true or false statements, putting lines in the correct order, or having students write a final verse are natural uses of songs in the classroom. Songs may also be used to lead into discussions of certain topics. Music in the classroom provides opportunities for developing writing skills. students can be asked to write opinion pieces in response to a song and lead questions can be used to elicit written responses. In these ways writing, listening, and speaking skills can be practiced. Review of lyrics in text form brings in the reading skills. Schoepp (2001) discusses several rationales for using songs in the classroom which are grounded in learning theory. In his discussion of the theoretical rationale for using songs in the classroom he makes reference to the two processes involved in listening and how they are both activated when using music. In bottom-up processing the listener understands the meaning first by processing the sounds into words, then into sentences, and finally into meaning. In top-down processing the listener uses his or her existing knowledge to understand the meaning of the message (Schoepp, 2001). Schoepp references Cullen (1999), who states, ?? both these process are essential for developing listening comprehension.? Schoepp considers the Affective Filter Hypothesis in his discussion of how affective factors relate to language learning. For the best possible learning to occur, the affective filter must be weak. A weak affective filter allows the student to have a positive attitude towards learning and songs are one way to achieve this weak affective feature (Schoepp, 2001). In his discussion of cognitive reasons for using songs in the classroom Schoepp (2001) points out that songs allow for the creation of automaticity. Automaticity in language means producing language with fluency where the student knows what to say and communicates it with rapidity and without pauses. This is the goal in learning a language. Because songs provide the occasion to develop reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills they are optimal for use in the classroom. The ways in which they can be used to study grammar and structure and to engage and interest students also makes it clear that music is essential tool for the EFL teacher. The wide range of applications and breadth of students who benefit from the use of songs furthers the argument for the value of songs in the classroom. References Saricoban, A. & Metin, E. (October, 2000). Songs, Verse and Games for Teaching Grammar. The Internet TESL Journal,6. Retrieved August 15, 2011, from http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Saricoban-Songs.html Schoepp, K. (February, 2001). Reasons for Using Songs in the ESL/EFL Classroom. The Internet TESL Journal,7. Retrieved August 15, 2011, from http://iteslj.org/Articles/Schoepp-Songs.html