Упражнения для тренировки произношения на уроке

Английское произношение (и идущее с ним рука об руку понимание устной речи) доставляет изучающим язык множество сложностей. Перед преподавателями также стоит непростая задача – найти способы сделать быструю речь иностранцев понятной и шаг за шагом обучить своих учеников говорить правильно. В этой статье речь пойдёт о некоторых приёмах и упражнениях, которые могут в этом помочь.

  1. Сколько слов.
    Как известно, в английском языке длительность предложения в речи определяет не количество слов и слогов, а в первую очередь количество ударных слов. Например, следующие предложения будут звучать примерно одинаково по времени:
    John may come home.
    John may have come home.
    John may have been coming home.
    Причём, слова, на которые падает основной смысл и ударение, будут несколько растягиваться (в данном случае, John, come и home), а менее значимые будут произноситься быстрее. В результате, будет возникать эффект «проглатывания слов», на который жалуются многие студенты в России.
    Чтобы немного помочь с восприятием таких быстрых отрезков в предложениях, можно использовать такое простое упражнение: преподаватель зачитывает какое-либо предложение с обычной скоростью речи, а его студенты должны затем сказать, сколько в предложении слов.
    Таким образом, преподаватель сможет обратить внимание группы и на то, как ведут себя слова и звуки в условиях быстрой речи, и на лексику, которую студенты просто не замечают (а не замечаем мы чаще всего именно то, чего не знаем или не понимаем).
  2. Диктант.
    Да, это банально и просто, прямо как на уроках русского языка в средней школе. Преподаватель диктует какой-либо текст (или пару предложений), главным условием здесь, как и в прошлом упражнении, является соблюдение обычной, естественной скорости речи.
    Студенты записывают то, что услышали, и затем группа совместно анализирует то, что получилось.
    Или можно выполнить следующее упражнение.
  3. Выделение ударения и интонации в предложениях.
    Здесь можно воспользоваться уже написанным предложением или, к примеру, расшифровкой аудио (из учебника или с таких сайтов, как Elllo или News In Levels). Студентам нужно просто подчеркнуть слова, на которые падает ударение в предложении, а также интонацию.
  4. Исправление ошибок.
    Для выполнения этого упражнения можно использовать как тексты из пункта 3, так и предложения из грамматических упражнений. Преподаватель зачитывает какое-либо уже знакомое студентам предложение, но с ошибкой. К примеру, он говорит: «Jack may have come home» — вместо «John may have come home». Студенты должны устно исправить ошибку, интонационно выделив верный вариант.
  5. Бэкчэйнинг.
    Преподаватель выбирает какое-либо предложение из тех, с которыми группа уже работала, например, выполняя грамматические задания. Читает его с конца по одному слову, студенты повторяют за ним:
    Преподаватель: Home.
    Студенты: Home.
    Преподаватель: Come home.
    Студенты: Come home.
    Преподаватель: May come home.

    И так далее, пока не получится полной версии предложения. Здесь у студентов опять же будет возможность увидеть, как меняется произношение слов при быстрой естественной речи.
  1. Запись студентов.
    С помощью этого записи речи студентов в аудио (или на видео) можно анализировать любые аспекты владения языком.
    Если студент выполнял пересказ, его можно попросить сделать расшифровку своей речи и затем сравнить её с оригинальным текстом на предмет грамматических или лексических ошибок. И, конечно, здесь можно уделить достаточно внимания и произношению отдельных звуков, и интонации и ударению в предложениях.

Все эти упражнения практически не требуют подготовки со стороны преподавателя и могут быть увлекательными и полезными для студентов.


Николай, преподаватель Центра иностранных языков АКЦЕНТ.

Луи, Луи

Один из способов научиться говорить правильно – это научиться слышать чужие ошибки и исправлять их. Один из способов научиться понимать чужую речь – слушать песни. Так почему бы не совместить эти способы, тем более, когда для этого есть прекрасный материал?

Таким материалом является написанная в 1955 году Ричардом Берри композиция «Louie Louie». Эта песня заняла 54 место в списке «500 величайших песен всех времен» и 5 место среди «40 песен, изменивших мир» по версии журнала Rolling Stone. На данный момент существует огромное количество кавер-версий этой песни, и, соответственно, несколько вариантов текста. Для наших целей подойдет любая версия, и выбрать подходящий вариант можно, исходя из уровня языка, поскольку некоторые версии исполнения могут быть более трудными для восприятия. Так, для начинающих подойдет оригинальная версия Ричарда Берри или Роберта Планта, для более продвинутых уровней можно попробовать прослушать песню в исполнении The Sonics или The Kingsmen.

Louie_Louie

Для примера рассмотрим композицию в живом исполнении группы The Smashing Pumpkins, текст практически полностью совпадает с оригинальной версией Ричарда Берри.

Прослушать песню можно здесь.

Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
A fine little girl, she waits for me.
Me catch the ship across the sea.
I sailed the ship all alone.
I never think I’ll make it home.

Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Three nights and days me sailed the sea.
Me think of girl constantly.
On the ship, I dream she there.
I smell the rose in her hair.

Louie Louie, me gotta go, well,
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Me see Jamaican moon above.
It won’t be long me see me love.
Me take her in my arms and then
I tell her “I never leave again”.

Louie Louie, me gotta go.
Louie Louie, me gotta go.
I said, me gotta go.
Yes, me gotta go.
Well, me gotta go.

Для данной композиции можно предложить несколько вариантов заданий. Например:

1) Одним из плюсов этой песни является наличие сюжета, поэтому при первом прослушивании необходимо постараться его уловить (желательно делать это без текста).

2) Во второй раз, уже с текстом, стоит обратить внимание на отклонения от нормы английского языка (падеж местоимения I, форма глагола have got to, времена глаголов, пропуск глагола to be и т.д.). Почему бы не привести текст в «правильный» вид?

3) Классическое задание на вставку слов является для преподавателей английского языка отличным способом проверить и развить навык понимания устной речи студента. Так, можно убрать из текста все глаголы или все слова, связанные с морской тематикой. Вариантов – множество, все зависит от личных предпочтений.

Таким образом, короткая и несложная для восприятия, но в то же время бодрая и задорная композиция может стать отличной практикой различных языковых навыков.


Лилия, преподаватель Центра иностранных языков АКЦЕНТ.

Passives at C1 level

At C1 level, learners are continuing to develop their mastery of the passive, particularly in more formal or academic contexts.

They can use the present continuous passive negative form to refer to ongoing situations in the present.

In my opinion, the store is not being promoted enough. (Cambridge English: Business Higher; Polish)

Women are not being seen as just inferior to men and incapable of working outside the home. (Cambridge English: Advanced; Portuguese)

Finally, I agree with the fact that mobile phones have helped the human species develop, but as long as they’re not being used in a sensible way, they’re a destructive weapon against children’s health. (Cambridge English: Advanced; Greek)

C1 learners also use the passive, with it as a dummy subject, to summarise or evaluate in discussions, usually in formal or academic writing.

To sum up, it can be concluded that this report has attempted to summarize the main points  regarding the Spanish educational system. (Cambridge English: Advanced; Spanish — European)

In addition, it has been found that some products were difficult to find. (Cambridge English: Business Vantage; Swiss German)

At C1 level, learners can now use the passive non-finite -ing form as a subordinate clause or a noun clause to give explanatory background information.

Being born and raised in Mexico, I believe her to be this country’s best representative  to the world. (Cambridge English: Advanced; Spanish — Latin American)

Being overworked and badly paid, Polish women are torn between their dreams and  their real possibilities. (Cambridge English: Advanced; Polish)

Being invited by your boss for an unexpected lunch makes you feel noticed. (Cambridge English: Advanced; Portuguese)

Source: English Profile.

How do students learn vocabulary?

“How can I remember it all?”

“I write down the words but never remember them”

How often have you heard this? A hundred, a thousand, tens of thousands of times? What do you say to your students? What’s the answer?

Well, the fact is, there isn’t one. There are, however, a few common sense principles that we can use. The most obvious, of course, is “If you don’t write something down, you’re more likely to forget it in the long-term”. So to those students who refuse to write anything down, as teachers we should explain (sometimes forcefully if we need to) that they are making life much more difficult for themselves, and will be adding months and years to the process of achieving the level that they wish.

There is, however, a point to be made here, isn’t there? Even those students who write everything down struggle to remember the words you wanted to teach in class. So clearly, just writing down is not enough. We should consider many different factors as teachers when we ‘teach’ vocabulary.

The first, and perhaps the most poignant is what does it mean to ‘know’ a word? We should consider:

  1. The meaning
  2. Its context
  3. Register
  4. Its pronunciation
  5. Is it passive or active?
  6. Spelling
  7. It’s co-text (collocations and appearances in phrases)

This list is simply to exhaustive to discuss in detail here, however what we will look at is some good general principles we can apply to the classroom and some theory regarding how words are stored.

Regarding the list above, and the ‘4 skills’, which are unfortunately considered separate by many, there is a good principle of “hear, read, speak, write” that can be applied to English (furthered by the fact that English spelling has very little bearing on the pronunciation of an item).  If we refer to the distinction between ‘language learning’ (conscious) and language acquisition (unconscious), many pieces of research have highlighted the primacy of listening as input. The reason for this is that it is not only what is listened to that influences the unconscious acquisitional process, but also what is heard. Some experiments have even suggested that the focus on student output is given undue emphasis, and suggest that language can be learnt with a greater emphasis on input, particularly at early stages. Doesn’t that fly in the face of much of what is sermonized by the vast majority of Communicative Language Teaching dogmatists! As suggested by Krashen’s input model, carefully selected reading and listening input (at a level just above the students full comprehension) can be used to not only assist acquisition, but build confidence and give learners the opportunity to ‘manage’ their language. So, a useful order:

  1. Hear – Through a listening activity and drilling
  2. Read – See the text written in context.
  3. Write – Record the vocabulary.

5 guiding principles of vocabulary learning

  1. The principle of cognitive depth

“The more one manipulates, thinks about, and uses mental information, the more likely it is that one will retain that information. In the case of vocabulary, the more one engages with a word (deeper processing), the more likely the word will be remembered for later use” (Schmitt 2000: 120)

This might seem like common sense, but it is surprising how much words are cast aside in some language learning classrooms and coursebooks.

So what does this mean? Well, anything! It can be sorting, identifying, classifying, matching etc. Try to ensure your activities involve some kind of mental process, rather than just repeat and record.

  1. The principle of associations

“The human lexicon is believed to be a network of associations, a web-like structure of interconnected links. When students are asked to manipulate words, relate them to other words and to their own experiences, and then to justify their choices, these word associations are reinforced” (Sökmen 1997: 241-2).

This really needs little explanation. Words with associations are remembered better. This argument suggests a good amount of categorizing and ordering in terms of hyponyms is a successful approach to aiding recall and acquisition.

  1. The principle of Multiple Encounters

“Due to the incremental nature of vocabulary acquisition, repeated exposures are necessary to consolidate a new word in the learner’s mind” (Schmitt & Carter 2000: 4)

Again, another seemingly common sense proposition, but one that I feel is most ignored by teachers. Language learning is a slow, sometimes frustrating process, and most importantly not linear in any sense! As such, we should be preparing lessons that not only introduce new vocabulary but those that give the learners the chance to meet familiar words again, in new contexts and forms. This principle also suggests that testing, especially in an informal manner is of great importance.

  1. The principle of Re-Contextualisation

“When words are met in reading and listening or used in speaking and writing, the generativeness of the context will influence learning. That is, if the words occur in new sentence contexts in the reading text, learning will be helped. Similarly, having to use the word to say new things will add to learning”  (Nation 2001: 80).

The importance of this is clear, having students use vocabulary items in different context (carefully chosen by the teacher, of course) will aid acquisition. Metaphor here could play an important role. For example, is there a metaphor between gambling and diplomacy?

Do you think there will be a war?

We can’t risk war.

The stakes are too high.

There’s too much to lose.

They’re just bluffing

We’ve got a weak hand.

  1. The principle of Retrieval

“The act of successfully recalling an item increases the chance that the item will be remembered. It appears that the retrieval route to that item is in some way strengthened by being successfully used” (Baddeley 1997: 112).

I’ve met some teachers who seem to get carried away with the idea that tasks should be challenging. Of course, they should be challenging, but not too difficult! We do want the students to recall these words, don’t we? We shouldn’t be putting obstacles in their way to successful completion of a task. I think this is key here. By preparing activities that aren’t very difficult, but in some way challenging (some kind of memory game maybe?), we will help item retrieval. Retrieval = further retrieval.

Can you think of any tasks that could be used according to each of these five principles?

Summary

A final word about these principles. Let us remember that as teachers it is our responsibility to provide challenging and engaging tasks that help the students on their long journey. This, however, should not detract from student responsibility. The student also has a responsibility to write things down, to do homework, and to practice English regularly.

Passives at B2 level

At B2 level, learners show great confidence in their use of the passive. They employ a wider range of verbs in a greater number of contexts, both informal and formal. They are able to use more tenses and competently use passive structures after modals, as will be seen below.

B2 learners can use the passive with a wide range of verbs needing two objects, putting the indirect object in subject position.

I was very happy to hear that you have been offered two jobs. (Cambridge English: First; Greek)

She was offered a contract to record a single. (Cambridge English: First; Spanish — Latin American)

Your firm has been given some extra money to spend on improvements to the cinema next year. (Cambridge English: First; Chinese)

They can use the passive with a range of tenses and verbs needing two objects, with the direct object in subject position and the indirect object in a prepositional phrase.

Your name was given to me by a member of yours, Allan Westwood, whom I met last  week. (Cambridge English: First; Swedish)

If more training is given to staff, they will be interested in their work and staff turnover will be reduced. (Cambridge English: Business Vantage; Tamil)

By the B2 level, there is evidence that learners can use the past simple passive negative. It should be noted, however, that negative forms are very low frequency.

What is worse, the ticket price was not reduced despite the fact that I showed my student ID. (Cambridge English: First; Japanese)

I had to go to the hospital because my back hurt so badly, and I wasn’t allowed to work for two weeks. (Certificate in ESOL Skills for life Level 1; Hungarian)

I was really disappointed because a lot of things were not done. (Cambridge English: First; Turkish)

Some say that studying animals would be impossible, if they weren’t kept in zoos. (Cambridge English: First;  Italian)

B2 learners can use the present continuous passive affirmative with an increasing range of verbs, and they can now produce sentences in the present continuous passive negative.

… students are not being educated equally. (Cambridge English: First; Mongolian)

To conclude, in my opinion, it is important to keep as many languages as possible alive, so we can make sure that part of human history is not being lost. (IELTS; Portuguese)

Learners at this level can use the past continuous passive affirmative.

However, to my disappointment, the restaurant was closed because it was being redecorated.  (Cambridge English: First; Chinese)

In addition to using the present continuous passive to refer to the future, B2 learners now use the future passive simple.

Just to let you know, you will be booked into the Palace Hotel … (Cambridge English: First; Polish)

First of all, I am very grateful to hear that the cinema will be renovated  next year. (Cambridge English: First; Korean)

Building on the B1 level use of the passive infinitive after need to, be going to, etc., B2 learners use both affirmative and negative forms after an increasing range of main verbs, modal verbs, adjectives and nouns, in impersonal constructions.

According to your advertisement, some training is supposed to be given. (Cambridge English: First; Korean)

My composition was ready to be printed and I was searching for a piece of paper … (Cambridge English: First;  German — Austria)

I would prefer to sleep in a tent because I have never done it and I think it is an experience not to be missed, a very original adventure! (Cambridge English: First; French)

They produce sentences in the present perfect passive affirmative and negative forms, often in the context of reporting.

I have been asked to write a report about an accident which happened to me last Saturday.  (Certificate in ESOL Skills for life Level 1; Polish)

I am writing to you to give you further information about the conference organization and  about the arrangements which have been made for your group of students. (Cambridge English: First; Italian)

This happened two years ago, and the necklace hasn’t been found yet. (Cambridge English: First; Spanish —  European)

At B2, learners can also use the past perfect passive affirmative and negative forms.

The car had been serviced and everything seemed to be all right. (Cambridge English: First; Portuguese)

At this moment, Lime walked in and realised he had been set up. (Cambridge English: First; Dutch)

B2 level learners can competently use the passive with modal verbs in a range of contexts and with a variety of subjects.

Architects should be hired to design parks, where people could go for a walk or have a picnic. (Cambridge English: First; Polish)

As a result, today, it could be said that nearly everyone is living in a digital world which means computers are necessary and very important. (Cambridge English: First; Chinese)

This includes the use of the present perfect simple affirmative and negative forms with modal verbs to refer to the past.

I think that all these problems could have been avoided. (Cambridge English: First; Catalan)

I don’t remember how I lost it, it might have been stolen. (Cambridge English: First; Japanese)

Of course, some groups were better than others but I think they all played well and have talent: they should have been given a chance! (Cambridge English: First; Italian)

It should not have been used in this kind of article. (Cambridge English: First; Korean)

In addition, B2 level learners can use the passive with modal verbs to evaluate or summarise.

In conclusion, it can be seen that the bicycle is more suitable for those who are living in a little town or in the country. (Cambridge English: First; Italian)

Next, I find that our streets are not very clean, another major problem, and I think something must be done about it. (Cambridge English: First; Spanish — European)

Learners at the B2 level can use a wide range of passive forms confidently and appropriately. They can correctly employ the passive in higher level functions, such as making predictions and suppositions, reflecting on the past, evaluating, and summarising. High-frequency expressions in the passive are evident in both formal and informal utterances, e.g. it can be seen, it could be said that, I have been asked, an experience not to be missed, it could have been avoided, etc.

Thanks to English Profile for their wonderful work!

Passives at A2 and B1 levels

Using passives at A2 level

Currently, there is no evidence in the Cambridge Learner Corpus of the use of the passive at A1 level.

Screen shot 2012-10-24 at 4.17.24 PM

At A2 level, learners have begun to use the passive to discuss familiar topics. They can, for example, use the passive affirmative with by to add information about something already known.

 It was bought by my uncle. (Key English Test; Chinese)

It’s made by Sony-Ericsson, I love it … (Key English Test; Italian)

It was written by an excellent author, Lev Tolstoy. (Key English Test; Russian)

Learners at A2 can use the past simple passive affirmative after a singular subject.

It was built in 1880. (Key English Test; Chinese)

On Saturday morning I was invited to a sports competition. (Key English Test; Indian)

They can also use the present simple passive affirmative with a singular subject.

The group is called “playmo”. (Key English Test; French)

I bought a T-shirt, it cost £42 because it is made of cotton. (Key English Test; Spanish — Latin American)

It is interesting to find that A2 learners, who have just been introduced to the present simple and past simple passive forms, are able to make natural and accurate use of them immediately. They can use a number of high-frequency passive expressions, such as be made by, be made of, be built, be invited toand be called, often with it as the subject. However, the sentences they produce are in the affirmative — there is no evidence in the Cambridge Learner Corpus at present of the use of present simple or past simple negative forms at A2.

Using the passive at B1 level

At B1 level, there is a great leap in learner ability to use this voice. In addition to the A2 uses, they are able to use a wider variety of verbs with a greater variety of passive forms.

B1 learners have the ability to use the present simple affirmative and negative with a range of pronoun and noun subjects. Note that the second and third examples shown below are from Business English exams, as are several of the other examples illustrated in the English Grammar Profile at this level. This reflects the more frequent use of the passive in Business writing, due to its more formal nature and the nature of the exam tasks set.

The walls are painted in a dark blue, and the floor is wood. (Cambridge English: Preliminary, Dutch)

Our office is situated near the airport. (Cambridge English: Business Preliminary; Spanish — Latin American)

I think we should replace the printer, because it prints very slowly and the sheets aren’t  printed properly. (Cambridge English: Business Preliminary; Swiss German)

B1 learners can use the past simple passive affirmative with a range of pronoun and noun subjects, both singular and plural. Although they use the affirmative form competently, there is no evidence at present of any significant use of the past simple passive negative.

It was written in a strange language that I tried to translate. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Spanish — Latin American)

Next day, I heard that my neighbour’s car was stolen. (Skills for Life entry level 3; Polish)

They filmed the flowers and trees, and some pupils were interviewed about their work in  the garden, too. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; German)

Learners at this level can also use the past simple passive affirmative with a limited range of verbs needing two objects, putting the indirect object in subject position.

So I was given a ticket for a train, running from Berlin to Munich. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; German)

We were lucky, because we were given another chance. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Serbian)

The CLC also reveals that at B1 level, learners are able to use the passive with by in more sophisticated ways. They can, for example, use it to give focus.

My school was chosen by the TV company because it is one of the newest in town.  (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Italian)

They can use the passive with by in a relative clause, often to add more information.

 I also like wearing clothes which are manufactured by famous brands. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Tamil)

 It’s the highest mountain in U.A.E. Special roads were built for people to reach the top of  the mountain, which was surrounded by houses. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Arabic — Gulf)

In addition, B1 learners are able to use the passive infinitive after a limited number of expressions including going to, have to, need to and want to.

 It is going to be shown this Friday. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Turkish)

After that, they printed an authorisation form, which had to be signed by my parents because  I’m not over eighteen. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Spanish — European)

He wants to be informed about sales development by the end of November 2001. (Cambridge English: Business Preliminary;  Swiss German)

They can accurately use the present continuous passive affirmative, although with a limited range of verbs.

Did you know that the next Harry Potter movie is being filmed in my school? (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Catalan)

Why don’t we stay at my house and visit Tokyo, where an interesting Japanese history exhibition is being held. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; Japanese)

They filmed a class where the clothes are being tested at the moment and they interviewed  some people. (Cambridge English: Preliminary; German)

At B1 level, learners can now use the present continuous passive affirmative to refer to the future.

The seminar is being held at Chennai in the next week. (Cambridge English: Business Preliminary; Marathi)

We are being visited by our Sales Director on Thursday morning. (Cambridge English: Business Preliminary;  Portuguese — Brazil)

At present, however, there are no examples of the present continuous passive negative at B1 level. Although negative forms are taught at this level, they don’t seem to be produced until the B2 level. Similarly there is very little evidence that B1 learners are using passives with modal verbs, although again this is taught at this level. This might be an ‘opportunity of use’ issue, i.e. perhaps the students did not get the chance to use these structures in their exams because none of the exam tasks required them. An alternative interpretation could be that they find ways to avoid using these structures until B2, when they become more confident with passives.

Source — http://www.englishprofile.org/index.php/grammar-gems/.

Using music in the EFL Classroom

Music is an area of life that, regardless of age, character, gender or nationality, everyone can enjoy. It is also an invaluable learning tool. In a matter of fact, a large body of research points to the huge benefits music brings to language learning. Neurologists have found that musical and language processing occur in the same area of the brain, and there appear to be parallels in how musical and linguistic syntax are processed (Maess & Koelsch, 2001).

What are the advantages of using music in the classroom?

  1. It’s authentic, and thus, motivating
  2. Songs repeat a lot. Of vocabulary and grammar structures. Repetition aids recall.
  3. Good examples of colloquial English
  4. Do not follow the “inauthentic” grammar of many EFL coursebooks etc.
  5. Highlights features of pronunciation such as ellipsis and elision
  6. Enables teachers to teach culture and history
  7. Music is one of the biggest sources of English outside the classroom, if students enjoy these tasks, they may search out more music independently

This is not going to be a theoretical paper; As such, I’ll leave the theory to other papers and suggest sources at the end of this post if you are interested in learning more about the processes involved.

Listening and speaking activities

Through listening to music, students are exposed to the stretching and compacting of English speech and how intonation, stress and rhythm change the meaning of English in context. In Depeche Mode’s “Don’t you forget about me”, /t/ with initial word /y/ becoming /ch/ can be heard. There are many examples of such changes in pronunciation. This can be particularly useful for your students due to the phonetic differences between English and Russian. This ‘bottom-up’ processing not only improves your students’ pronunciation, but also their ability to comprehend both short and extended streams of native speech. Teachers can draw attention to these in class and drill them.

Comprehension questions and response sheets can be used to generate class discussion about a particular topic or even the song itself. An important part of language learning is for students to be able to feel that their feelings and opinions are understood.

Reading and Writing activities

Cloze Activities

Music can also be used to isolate particular grammar structures or vocabulary. Students’ attention can be drawn to these in the form of a cloze activity. Words can be deleted to practice a target grammar point, such as past tense verbs, prepositions, or compound nouns, or to identify key words (Griffee, 1990)

Lyrical strips

Lyrics can be cut into strips and put into order as the students hear the song. Following this, the students check their answers by listening to the song again and mumbling or miming along to the song.

“Dictation”

With short songs, students can write down all the words that they hear. They can then try to piece together the lyrics of the song with a partner. Afterwards, the teacher hands out the lyrics sheet for them to check.

Story Telling

With songs that tell a story (and let’s face it, that’s most of them), students can either retell the story to a partner, covering reported speech and supporting conversational abilities or write a written response. For example, many songs contain stories where a husband/or wife has been unfaithful. Students could write a response letter refuting the allegations etc.

Vocabulary and Grammar activities

Cloze activities

Again, the traditional EFL activity of putting words into gaps in the text can be used to draw attention to particular language items. Personally, I like to follow these pieces of vocabulary up with discussion questions.

Giving clues

Example: Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

Hey where did we go,

Days when the rains came

Down in the hollow,

Playin’ a new game,

Laughing and a running hey, hey

Skipping and a jumping

In the misty morning fog with

Our hearts a thumpin’ and you

My brown eyed girl,

You my brown eyed girl.

Find the following collocations and expressions.

  1. A question about where you went with someone.

[Where did we go?]

  1. A question about what became of something that existed in the past.

[Whatever happened to…?]

  1. A collocation to describe someone‟s physical appearance.

[brown eyed]

  1. An expression for where something is that cannot be seen.

[Hiding behind a… ]

(Ken Lackman Lexical Approach activities http://kenlackman.com/files/LexicalActivitiesBook102.pdf)

What did you hear?

Write some vocabulary on the board (some in the song, some not). Students listen to the song and circle the words they hear.

Isolation

This can be used to isolate a piece of lexis. However, it can also be used to isolate a grammar structure or a pronunciation feature that you want to teach. Students simply stand up from their seats when they hear this piece of language in the song.

Build it in!

Personally, I think songs have too often been relegated to the “Friday afternoon” slot in lessons. When you’ve come to the end of a unit of a book, or just want a quick and easy way to reinforce a language point. That’s all well and good, but music can also be used as the centre of a lesson.

Choosing a song for your learners

  • Ensure the language is appropriate for your learners. Be aware of problems with metaphors
  • Ensure the lyrics are clear and not drowned out by music
  • Ensure the content of the song is appropriate and not explicit or offensive.

Further Reading

Adamowski, E. (1997). The ESL songbook. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press

Bechtold, J. (1983). Musical ESL. TESL Talk, 14, 180-184.

Domoney, L. & Harris, S. (1993). Justified and ancient: Pop music in EFL classrooms.ELT Journal, 47, 234-241

Griffee, D.T. (1992). Songs in action. Herfordshire, England: Phoenix ELT

Moriya, Y. (1988). English speech rhythm and its teaching to non-native speakers.Paper presented at the annual convention of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Chicago. (ED No. 303 033)

Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G., & Ky, K. (1993). Mozart and spatial reasoning. Nature,(365) 611.

Matt Vesty for Accent Language Center