Using songs to teach a foreign language
Language teachers can use songs as part of their classroom teaching concert. The songs contain authentic language, are easily accessible, provide vocabulary, grammar and cultural elements and are fun for students. They can provide valuable speaking, listening and language training in and out of the classroom. Here are some of the main reasons why songs can work so well in a foreign language classroom:
1. Songs almost always contain genuine, natural language
This is in stark contrast to the pseudo-pseudo-language often found in many student books. Of course songs can go to the other extreme by using too much crude, dirty or otherwise anti-language. By careful searching, you can compile an extensive library of songs that can be used to learn languages.
2. Different new vocabulary can be introduced to students through songs
Looking to enhance student vocabulary with useful phrases, vocabulary and expressions? Songs are usually directed to the native-speaking population, so they usually contain contemporary vocabulary, confusion, and expression.
3. Songs are usually easily accessible
Cibemba and Silozi are intolerant, and the songs are usually not that hard to get. Available from local sources, including students. There is always the Internet that can connect you with song downloads from all but the most obscure languages.
4. Songs can be selected to suit the needs and tastes of the students
Many songs are available, especially in English, and it is by no means difficult to choose songs with appropriate themes, levels and vocabulary. By selecting and using appropriate songs, students can be rewarded for the complexity or simplicity of the language.
5. Grammatical and cultural elements can be introduced through songs
If almost all the songs have a repetitive theme or story. So quoting cultural elements is usually possible but often overlooked when using songs. I still use “Hit the Road Jack” sung by the late Ray Charles to illustrate speech contractions. He uses spoken contractions in almost every line of the song.
6. The duration is easily controlled
Whether you have an hour, 30 minutes, or 15 minutes or more, you can use a song in a planned lesson. The use of songs is very flexible.
7. Students can experience a wide range of accents
The good thing about songs is that you can expose them to different types of English students. British English, American English, Caribbean English are all widely available through the songs. The accents are also well represented by songs from different regions and in different genres and forms. Gospel, Spirit, R&B, Pop, Rock, Reggae, Jazz and other styles change not only the pronunciation but also the vocabulary and usage.
8. We can use lyrics in relation to the conditions of the world around us
Songs have been used as a carrier of protest for civil rights, labor rights, even the rights of prisoners and many other unspeakable reasons. They describe corruption, crime, war and every social theme or cause. We do not mention how many songs, related to the theme of sex, or explore.
9. Students think songs are natural and fun
Well, aren’t they really? Even funny, silly songs abound in English. Some singers really made a career out of them. (Ray Stevens, anyone?) They change the pace of fun, incompatible with classroom usage.
These are just a few of the many reasons why songs are so useful in the language learning classroom. They contain authentic language, are easily accessible, provide vocabulary, grammar and cultural elements and are fun for students. They provide pleasant speaking, listening, vocabulary, and language use in and out of the classroom. Therefore, EFL, English as a foreign language, ESL, English as a second language and foreign language teachers should consider using songs as a regular part of their classroom activities.