We all talk about the privileges of having a PLN and we agree that twitter is one of the most powerful tools for the educators to build your PLN. If you have a PLN, it means that you have a constant professional development network. However, if you think that twitter is just for professional development then you are missing the best part of it.
In the session, I talked about why we should use songs in EFL classes.
Music is everywhere in our lives. We listen to songs when we are happy, angry, sad or when we need inspiration or when we want to relax. We go out of our homes with our songs, we travel with them, we wait with them, we shop with them.
So we can teach with them. May be I didn’t say anything new. These are the things we all know. However, I think it is always good to remember them.
Music can be used to teach
grammar : at the presentation stage of a grammar point or while reviewing
listening : gap fill exercises, matching to teach listening for gist or detail
vocabulary: to teach or increase vocab by asking your students to replace the words with a synonym, antonym or a near synonym.
reading: songs are authentic texts and they can be used for comprehension, discussion and teaching culture
writing: you can use songs for teaching writing. Ask your students to write a letter to the character, write a story which took place before the sond, add one more verse to the original, write their song for the same topic.
While doing all these we can always use web 2.0 to motivate our students so they can add their own content to the material.
In the final part of my talk I gave examples how I used songs with my students.
I started the session with an activity from Music and Song by Tim Murphey (2009, OUP)
Play an instrumental piece.
Ask students to fill out the questionnaire while listening to the music.
1. If you turned on the radio and heard this piece of music would you:
turn off immediately?
buy the record?
download it to your mp3 player?
Leave it on as background music?
Imagine someone who loves this music. Describe the person in a few words.
Imagine someone who doesn’t love this music. Describe the person in a few words.
What emotions does it evoke in you?
What do you see if you close your eyes as you listen?
If this were the background music for an advertisement, what do you think the advertised product would be?
If this were a soundtrack for a film, what kind of a film would that be?
In what kind of place would you be most likely to hear this music?
This is an activity I did with one of my classes last week.
Choose a soundtrack of a movie (preferably an instrumental piece)
Tell them that piece of music is from a movie
Ask the students to relax and listen to the music
When the music is finished tell them they are going to listen to it again and write a paragraph answering the following questions.
What kind of a movie is it?
Describe the scene that this music is being played
Who are the actors and the actresses
The result was amazing. Although it was early in the morning, they came up with brilliant paragraphs. They even found each other very creative and music helped us to start the lesson with a smile on our faces.
When we feel that students are bored, we tend to change the pace and move to a more energising activity. This one is something like that. However, I use it as a gap filler or an fun activity after I introduce the new topic. It sounds a bit childish, though it always works with older students too. My students are grade 10 and grade 11 and every year at least once I use it in my class. Last week before the holiday as a whole class we played our snowball game and we really enjoyed while doing it and after the activity they all sat comfortably and did the post writing activity.
Here is how and when I do it:
Hand each student a blank sheet of paper.
Ask them to write a wish for present, an ability that they want to have, a regret, an annoying habit of sb that they are irritated. For example: I want a motorbike. My sister keeps reading my diary, etc
Then have them crumple the paper into a ball.
Have all of them stand up and begin throwing the “snowballs” at each other. If you like you can even play a song which will help them to feel motivated.
When you think it is enough, you can stop the fight.
Then have each student pick up a snowball close to them, open it, and say what their friends’ wishes and regrets are.
And some variations:
You can ask them to write questions and the one who opens the paper answers the question. For reported speech you can ask them to gossip about sb and the one who opens the snowball should turn the direct statement to reported speech or you can tell them to write a suggestion, promise, offer, request and then tell them to report using the reporting verbs.
A friend teaching at primary school suggested doing it for descriptions. Ask students to draw a picture on what you are teaching, for example a classroom, and then the one who opens the ball can describe the picture or even write the description.
The variations are endless. If you trust your kids, it will be a great activity.