Music is a powerful learning tool. I love to use songs in the foreign language classroom. They are topical, and provide everyday context for grammar/vocabulary that students are learning. They provide an ‘immersion’ learning experience, and as we know, learning to music means we retain more readily. I use them frequently to introduce language elements. Sometimes, however, a point of grammar, or a vocabulary theme requires students to concentrate a bit more. I have had great success using songs, even English language ones to do this. They allow me to strengthen the context for learning a language point, or set the mood.
For our Murder Mystery nothing is better in the background than the “Pink Panther”. The song plays in the room well before the task is set before them. Even before they see the assignment they are attuned to the context and theme of the unit. My Grade 10’s master two adjective forms – one that alters to change it’s tense and one that doesn’t. They learn the manipulated one first and often struggle with the second form – the one that can’t be touched. I needed a ‘hook’ to help them remember and found it with MC Hammer “Can’t Touch This”.. They hear the song, they remember it’s message and can all tell me what adjectives you can ‘touch’ and which you can’t. As for oral work in class – our latest clue that we are going to ‘talk’ is the opening of “Call Me Maybe” – students hear it and are ready to interact.
No, this isn’t necessarily the way many teachers would think to use music in class. But many of us have been using acronyms, or mnemonics or other ‘tricks’ to aid in leaning. I encourage you to think about music beyond the target language in setting the mood, or providing support in learning. Is there a song or lyric that might aid you in your language teaching? And if it leads students to a richer language experience, I’m all for it…