No matter what language you speak, music has a universal tongue, wouldn’t you agree? Its power in bringing people together, no matter what language they speak, is priceless. So, if music has the ability to unite us, why not use it in the classroom to help your students learn English?
I have my kids to thank for inspiring this post, partly due to their love of watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood every day. You find inspiration everywhere.
On the show they sing the lesson of the day repeatedly throughout each episode. It sticks in your head and is really catchy, and the nice thing is that the lessons are useful for children in helping to problem solve or deal with certain emotions that may arise out of unpleasant situations.
A few Internet searches later I found that learning a language (such as English) through music really helps to accelerate the learning and comprehension process. Nerd alert – it turns out that the side of your brain that processes language also processes music! That makes so much sense to me. Not only does music help with reading and listening skills, but it also helps improve speaking and even writing.
I can’t count the times I’ve suggested to – and at one point pleaded with – some of my students to watch English speaking shows to no avail. However, music is different. Even if you don’t know the language, you’ll be able to repeat and even memorize a certain song if it strikes a chord with you – no pun intended. 😀 And just about everyone listens to music, so it’s easier to encourage your learners to listen to the radio or borrow cd’s from the library and simply play songs for as long as their ears can tolerate.
The beauty about music is that you can listen to it in every situation, even when sleeping. Some people actually sleep with instrumental music in the background to help them relax!
Things to consider when choosing to incorporate music into your lessons:
- It goes without saying, but choose appropriate songs – nothing vulgar, foul, or with profane words or expressions.
- Aim to use slower more melodic tunes for lower level learners and fast-paced songs for the more advanced learners.
- Choose a song you’re passionate about; your passion for the song will translate into your lesson and your students will feed off of that energy.
- Check out the ERIC Digests write-up on how music can greatly impact an ESL learner’s language acquisition and gain helpful tips on how to incorporate music into your lessons.
- Finally, visit Busy Teacher and get your hands on over 1700 free printable music worksheets, many of which were written by other ESL teachers!
Who else uses music to teach English? Keep your comments and feedback coming. I love learning about what you do in your classroom with your students. 🙂