We use songs a lot in our world language classes – they are an amazingly authentic resource – and often just downright fun to listen to. #Langchat has done more than one chat on this subject and I have written about my ‘song of the week‘ and the variety of ways I use it (among other ideas) in the past.
This past month I stumbled on a new aspect of the song activity. Keep in mind that this initially came as part of a bigger activity but it emerged as a fun interpretive add-on. In a nutshell it involves using the English version of the TL (target language) song lyrics as well as the TL ones.
What you need – a copy of the English lyrics and the TL lyrics (you can almost always find them online). Please note that I get my songs from iTunes (I believe its important to pay the artist).
What you do – To start, I put the lyrics side by side on a piece of paper (trying to match up the lines) and have the students fold them to only initially see the English version. You could put them on two separate pieces and only hand out the English first. Then play the song 2-3 times with the students looking at the English lyrics as they listen. I don’t worry too much about “understanding” – I want them to be listening and ‘reading’ the meaning. Next ask them to choose 5 words (or phrases or lines depending on their level) in the English that they want to see ‘what they are’ in the TL. Finally, once they have them I then ask them to look and search for the key phrases. Nope – no dictionaries at this point – they have to use the original English lyrics, position in the song etc. I then allow them to look up the words in the dictionary to see what they ‘mean’ in the original language. Finally we share out 1 key word each (on the whiteboard) that they found and think they will use again!
Why I like this – There’s so many ways that we use songs and I must admit that this type of approach was an afterthought during a more traditional ‘use the song’ activity. But I found that I liked it because:
- It reinforces that we don’t directly translate from one language to another – it’s so much more than that – we have to consider not what they are saying but what they are ‘communicating’.
- It’s personal – students are finding words/phrases that appeal to them
- It’s interpretive – they are using guessing, inference, and more to try to find the match
- It’s different – we almost always go to the TL lyrics first – so it’s a twist
Students enjoyed this ‘song’ option and I heard more than one “hey I was right!” comment during the time. I’ll try it again with other songs in the future!