The role of songs in learning English
Давлатова М. Х. The role of songs in learning English // Молодой ученый. 2015. №10. С. 1145-1147.
В статье раскрывается роль песен при изучении английского языка. Изучение языка с помощью песен не только облегчает работу, но и создаёт благоприятную атмосферу в аудитории. Но проблема в том, что всякая песня не соответствует к процессу обучения. При этомнужноучитыватьвозрастучащиеся, менталитетнарода.
Songs are not only fun. They have a serious purpose For language learning,
Says Akis Davanellos.
Throughout the centuries, experts in different fields — philosophers, scientists, teachers and therapists have recognized the place of music for therapeutic and developmental functions. Usually, adults begin the course either to prepare for exams in their regular school/university or for career progression, sometimes just for personal reasons. For the last two decades, English as a foreign language methodology has been actively considering the possibility of using music and songs in class. The analyses of the recent English as a foreign language literature on the problem to suggest that among the methodological purposes with which music, songs and chants are used in class, it is possible to rank the following:
- Practicing the rhythm, stress and the intonation patterns of the English language
- Teaching vocabulary, especially in the vocabulary reinforcement stage.
- Teaching grammar. In this respect songs are especially favored by teachers while investigating the use of the tenses.
- Teaching speaking.For this purpose, songs and mainly their lyrics are employed as a stimulus for class discussions.
- Teaching listening comprehension.
- Developing writing skills. For this purpose a song can be used in a variety of ways—for example, speculating what could happen to the characters in the future, writing a letter to the main character.
Songs provide a great opportunity for young learners to move around. Clapping, dancing and playing instruments stimulate memory, which makes it possible for learners to hear chunks of language as they sing and use them in different situations later. Older learners can also benefit from clapping, dancing, rocking, tapping, and snapping their fingers to music and songs.
Which learners like songs?
Howard Gardner once said: “It’s not how intelligent you are, but how you are intelligent.” No two students learn in exactly the same way. In any classroom there will be a mix of learning styles, and one student may ‘use’ more than one style, depending on what the task or topic is. To appeal to these differences is a huge teaching challenge. Gardner distinguished eight styles of learning, and students in his ‘aural/musical’ category will have a lot of benefit from learning through songs. They are strong in singing, picking up sounds, remembering melodies and rhythms; they like to sing, hum, play instruments and listen to music.
This is not to say that learners with other learning styles cannot benefit from songs. Of course they can, because in the activities we develop with songs we can dance and act (physical learning style), read, draw and do puzzles (spatial intelligence) tell stories, and write (verbal learning styles).
Most of the difficulties that students meet in the study of English are a consequence of the degree to which their native language differs from English, leading them to often produce errors of syntax and pronunciation or to assign grammatical patterns of their native language to English, pronounce certain sounds incorrectly or with difficulty and to confuse items of vocabulary known as false friends. Also, cultural differences in communication styles and preferences are significant. Naturally, students who do not excel with traditional delivery methods need to be addressed differently, but the proper nature of that instruction, whether it is musical, logical, or some other means may depend more upon the teacher’s individual abilities than student needs. Music makes cultural ideas accessible to all students and increases the capacity of the working memory, while providing a structured context for long-term recall of words and phrases. It also creates good atmosphere in the classroom thus increasing the motivation. Students relate to songs and find learning vocabulary through songs interesting and amusing rather than tedious. Likewise, language students that lack familiarity with a target culture and have trouble expressing themselves can connect through the freeing influence of music. This is true especially with pop songs which are part of youth culture. These songs also tend to deal with problems interesting to students as they identify with the singers and want to understand the words. Didactically songs are also useful in teaching the rhythm and the musicality of the language and the atmosphere created by the music enhances the ability of the students to remember vocabulary words and thus shortens the study period. Folk music should also be considered worthwhile because, unlike all modern music, it always matches the prosody of the language. In order to experience a culture's unique heritage and identity in depth, this type of immersive environment is very healthy for language learning.
When students make a major breakthrough in learning, it is music to a teacher’s ears. There is nothing more rewarding for a teacher, than seeing their students smile and laugh while they learn. The same can be said for students. Students who are taught in a fun and creative way, love coming in class.
BENEFITS of using music:
- Improves concentration
- Improves memory
- brings a sense of community to a group
- motivates learning
- relaxes people who are overwhelmed or stressed
- makes learning fun
- helps people absorb material
Of course, not everything is so simple. The major problems that teachers have with using songs in the classroom is the non-standard grammar in many of the songs and the ‘non-serious’ image of the pop songs. The problem is that the non-standard grammar will confuse the foreign language students. The answer to this in current research is that not all songs are suitable for foreign language classes. It is thus crucial to do the research and to choose songs suitable for learners and using appropriate grammar patterns. However, we have to admit that non-standard grammar is fairly common in daily usage of most languages and the students also have to learn to deal with it in a language they learn. In the communicative method of language acquisition, students a-re encouraged to work into grammar intuitively, not by memorizing rules. Grammar drills have been discredited, and most teachers understand that the «structure of the day» methodology seldom teaches what it intends, because all students are at different levels of competence. This method seems to work well, however in certain cases, combining this method with the direct instruction in the patterns of the grammar is in order. Songs can be used as an introduction for the drill, or perhaps in place of the drill and students would have opportunity to learn patterns through memorizing the lyrics, perhaps without even noticing it. This hesitancy to abandon drills is one of the enigmas in language teaching even though they are proven to have poor results. In an interesting example of the issue, songs have actually helped pass grammar tests in class because students were able to easily recall passages from songs that demonstrated the correct answer. This method of auditory recall is crucial to language learning, and can be used to reinforce grammar concepts too complex for adult language learners to grasp in a few lessons.
The question that any teacher who is willing to use music in class has to wrestle with is “what kind of music and what particular songs should we choose from the “ocean” of today’s music? A quick glance at the musical picture of modern society shows how picturesque and colorful it is. When I use musical material in class for the first time, I always choose the song I know and love myself. This enables me to be more emotionally persuasive as I expose my students to the songs and their interpretation of them.
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