Session 3 and 4
Music in English Language Teaching: A Fun and Functional Duet, presented by Sandra Prytherch
Notes of Music for Pronunciation, presented by Catherine Moore
The use of music in ELT seems to be a hot topic this year. Yesterday alone I found two sessions addressing the practical application of music in the language classroom.
Making her TESOL debut, Sandra Prytherch packed a full house and opened up her session with a warm-up activity of improv music. Participants had yet to even speak to one another, but those with various percussion instruments in their hands followed Sandra’s lead and added their “voices” to the music by accompanying Sandra, who played on a wooden flute. She explained how such improvisation is a metaphor for social construction. For instance, nonverbally participants were finding their roles and making sense of the balance of power. Sandra, the presenter and teacher in this context, was sharing power. In short, such music activities an help establish community. Students hesitant to give any kind of musical performance in class could be invited to listen first and then perhaps add rhythm by clapping. The students must be comfortable, and feeling the rhythm of music is a start.
Sandra offered different ways music could be used in a language lesson, from practicing pronunciation features to serving as a prompt for a writing activity. Sandra has generously posted her material online for teachers to refer to. A participant added another online resource worth considering: Flocabulary – Educational Hip-Hop.
Later the same day Catherine Moore of California State University offered more ideas on how music could enhance language teaching. She promoted the use of music for many of the same reasons as Sandra, and she also highlighted the fact that popular songs can offer a number of positive features, such as less complexity of information, rhyming, connected speech, and a slower rate of speech.
Catherine performed a labor of love and shared a thick handout including a long list of popular songs which lend themselves to certain language points. For instance, Ed Lipton’s Spelling Song and Barenaked Ladies’ Crazy ABCs. (You can find copies online.) Catherine ended her session by highlighting some of the more useful apps out there for music: Shazam, Sound Hound, and Pandora.
Thank you to both presenters!