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"The Harmonious Approach": Using Songs for Teaching Languages

This year (March, 2023), I attended Eva Lamb's session at the Language World Conference organised by the Association for Language Learning (ALL) on using songs in MFL classrooms. As a result of her session, I have started to explore the use of song in my own classroom, especially with my GCSE classes to support them with building up their vocabulary and help them with their listening and pronunciation skills.


In the dynamic landscape of language education, we - teachers are constantly seeking innovative methods to engage our students and enhance their learning experience. I believe that one particularly effective and enjoyable approach involves incorporating music into our curricula.


Songs have proven to be powerful tools for teaching modern languages, offering a unique blend of linguistic, cultural, and emotional benefits. In this blog post, I will explore the myriad advantages of using songs as educational resources and delve into practical strategies for implementing them in language classrooms.


The Linguistic Advantage:

Language acquisition is a multifaceted process, and songs can contribute significantly to its development. Music provides our learners with exposure to authentic pronunciation, rhythm, and intonation, helping them develop a more nuanced understanding of the language. By listening to songs, students become attuned to the natural cadence of speech, which may differ from the often scripted and slower pace of traditional language lessons. Moreover, songs offer a rich vocabulary and diverse linguistic structures, presenting learners with a broad range of language elements. Through repeated exposure to lyrics, students absorb new words and phrases effortlessly, reinforcing their memorisation and retention. This learning process facilitates a more intuitive grasp of grammar and syntax.

Cultural Immersion:

Beyond linguistic benefits, songs provide a gateway to cultural immersion. Music is deeply intertwined with the cultural fabric of a society, reflecting its history, values, and traditions. By exploring songs in a foreign language, students gain insights into the customs, lifestyles, and sentiments of the target culture. Teachers can curate a selection of songs that span various genres and time periods, allowing students to explore the evolution of musical styles within the context of the language they are learning. This not only broadens their cultural awareness but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the richness and diversity of the language they are studying.

Emotional Engagement:

The emotional impact of music is undeniable, and leveraging this emotional engagement can significantly enhance the language learning experience. Songs evoke feelings, memories, and personal connections, creating a more profound and memorable learning environment. When students connect emotionally to the lyrics and melodies, they are more likely to retain the linguistic content, like that song you can't get out of your head, and engage actively in the learning process.

Practical Strategies for Implementation:

  • Lyric Analysis: This encourages students to analyse song lyrics for vocabulary, grammar, and cultural references. Discussing the meaning and context of lyrics promotes critical thinking and deepens comprehension.


  • Karaoke Sessions: This has worked well with my younger learners; my year elevens were not so keen on this. I suppose, singing in front of your peers might not be so cool. The group is also quite big - 26 students. I might try it with my smaller year 10 class as there are some who are also quite into drama. We shall see... each class has a different dynamic. The idea is to organise karaoke sessions where students can sing along to the songs. The purpose of this interactive activity is not only to improve pronunciation but also to boost confidence and foster a sense of enjoyment in language learning.


  • Create Language Tasks: Teachers can design language tasks around songs, such as gap-fill exercises, vocabulary matching, or role-playing scenarios based on the song's theme, which reinforces language skills in a contextually relevant manner.


  • Cultural Projects: Assigning cultural projects related to the songs, such as researching the artist, exploring the historical background of a song, or creating a presentation on the cultural significance of specific lyrics is another great way to incorporate more culture into the curriculum and provide a sense of relatedness thus impacting students' motivation.


  • Thematic Units: Integrating songs into thematic language units or specific grammar points. For example, creating units centred around love, travel, or daily routines or grammar points such as verb conjugation, perfect tense, or prepositions just to name a few, and selecting songs that align with each theme / point to reinforce vocabulary and expressions.

***Here are examples of songs for various purposes - source from Eva Lamb***

Songs to support themes:


• Days of the Week / Numbers 1-7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFfK4D3AAdg

(for full lesson plan, see ALL Literature wiki): http://all-literature.wikidot.com/

• Food (fruit, vegetables): Das Schokoladelied: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va2nGWTchBk

• Supermarket Shopping / Adjectives: Edeka Werbung – Supergeil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BX5RlKIkfE

• Directions / places in town: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG2iAyEcM_g

• Prepositions: Wo ist die Katze?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4vacZfcK7E


Grammar:


• Conjugation song – sein: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOYAMqLQTkg

• Romanze im Perfekt (Uwe Kind): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPoVPTX76Io

• Präpositionen mit Akkusativ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diAdoQrBe_I

• Präpositionen mit Dativ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giEdWujIbic

• Tenses, modals, word order: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dN7UEzJmNz0


Silly songs that stick in your head / highly 'addictive' 🤣🤣🤣:


Here is a GCSE playlist that I have shared with my KS4 classes, it was shared by a colleague during the Pandemic on social media. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the colleague's name. If this is your playlist that you shared, let me know, please, so I can credit you.

GCSE Spotify play list – German artists and bands - Most popular 2020: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3xpCeMvfpOUp6w8GqLXjCa?nd=1


More on listening, including some useful websites and some ideas of activities which can be applied to the use of songs as well, click here: https://www.fraubastowmfl.co.uk/post/listening-or-breaking-the-fear-barrier-1


I hope, you find this post useful and would love for you to share with me your favourite songs in the comments.


References:

More on using literature and songs in other languages than in German, i.e., French and Spanish, check out the ALL http://all-literature.wikidot.com/.

Here you can find many resources and lessons share by Steven Fawkes, Eva Lamb and other colleagues.



2 comentarios


Invitado
11 dic 2023

My students love Lyricstraining!I've used it with DE,SP and FR,different key stages,so much fun whilst revising vocab and structures.Agnes

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Invitado
11 dic 2023

Thank you so much for sharing. Do you know the https://deutschmusikblog.de/ ? A lot of great songs with lesson ideas available. Greetings from Australia, Janny

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