Songs are an important aid to learning language! Songs should be used to teach vocabulary, grammar, idioms, and to increase fluency in spoken english
It Makes Learning Fun
Songs in the classroom add excitement to the learning process.
“Educational research supports that the ability to learn new concepts is best when the material is motivating and meaningful to the learner.”1
A song that is selected to suit the needs and interests of the class will create an enjoyable learning experience. Learning a song also follows an ESA pattern: the song must be heard and enjoyed, studied & learnt, and then sung. In this way the students are learning grammar, vocabulary and other language items through real life context and association; the same way that we learned our mother tongue.
The Stickiness Factor
Songs have been used throughout history for teaching many different subjects. Learning through music and songs increase the psychological arousal and involvement of the students by activating the left and right brain, thereby increasing the brain's ability to remember the facts and information contained within the song.
We only remember about 10% of what we hear, so the process of memorizing new language can be tedious. A song will help to decrease the amount of time needed to memorize new language by adding the “Stickiness Factor.” The “Stickiness Factor” refers to the way a song gets stuck in our mind and burn its way into our memory.
The “Stickiness Factor” is the reason we remember the jingles that we heard when we were kids
. How many of us still use the “ABC” song to remember which letter comes before another? It follows naturally then that the efl teacher
can use songs to more effectively teach new vocabulary by either selecting a song that has the target vocabulary or using the tune of a simple song and changing the lyrics to the desired vocabulary, just as the “ABC” song has the same tune as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
Since our brain's memory is greatly enhanced through association with pictures, stories or music, songs can quicken the revision of a certain subject or lesson learned. The singing of the song brings back to mind the various grammar, vocabulary or other points that were taught when the song was learned.
Another advantage that songs offer
over other authentic material – especially in advanced levels – is that the language in a song will mostly use casual, spoken english
. While an article provides a good source of authentic english
content, it may use language that is more formal. A song uses the same language that we need in everyday speech. A song also helps the listener to connect with the culture of the language it was written in.
A class that may not yet be at the level to learn idioms may learn Hit the Road Jack in order to study contractions. By studying contractions via this song he will learn other content that can be interesting, fun and useful in daily life.
“[Songs] are a great language package that bundles culture, vocabulary, listening, grammar and a host of other language skills in just a few rhymes. [Songs] can also provide a relaxed lesson on a hot boring day. [They] can also form the basis for many lessons.”2
The use of songs in the classroom should be a common occurrence. Songs – when used appropriately for the level and subject of the lesson – make for enjoyable and enhanced learning.
1: Cognitive | Academic, http://www.coastmusictherapy.com
2: Teach english
with Song- esl
through Music, http://www.esl
Other sources used in research:
Psychology of Selling, Brian Tracy
Singing Success, Brett Manning
The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell
10 Days to a Sharper Memory, Russell Roberts & The Princeton Language Institute
How Pimsleur Works, Pimsleur