TESOL 2012 Highlights: Day 1, Part 3

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!


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Hayam says:

    I think it’s amazing to use music to teach pronunciation, but I’d like to ask what’s the new in using music or songs in teaching pronunciation. As I know since a long time that many schools use songs to teach their young students how to pronounce words correctly. So I’d like to know if you are going to use any new strategy or method by using music in a particular way in developing students’ pronunciation.

    1. Yes, there were some points and activities that were already familiar, but there were also a few new things to consider. For example, Catherine Moore did include the well-known task of making song lyrics a gapped activity and having students listen to the song to complete the lyrics. However, perhaps less frequently done by teachers are two variations: She suggested having students work with a recording of a song and a copy of the lyrics to circle all the words with a target sound in them. Students could also work with a copy with key words boldfaced and phonemes must be identified. (E.g., if “wish” is boldfaced, student can determine if they heard a long “e” or a short “i.”)

      More novel and more meaningful was Catherine’s idea to keep a pronunciation journal, in which students keep a log of words to practice and a log of songs listened to with notes that correlate to weekly class topics. Catherine has also had students produce a music pronunciation project, in which they choose an American song and work with it closely in preparation for a class presentation that highlights a specific pronunciation feature (for instance, syllables and word stress). Reasons for choosing that song are also part of the presentation.

      Sandra Prytherch indicated that she is open to dialog. You can visit her blogspot site and initiate a discussion. You might ask for recommendations in terms of classroom application.

      1. Hayam says:

        Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate your effort.

      2. Hayam says:

        I have tried many times to visit Sandra Prytherch blogspot site, but I couldn’t. Could you please tell me or publish her link to make it easy for me to access her blogspot. Thanks in advance.

  2. Hello! I just checked the links again in my blog post. They are active and should work. In case they don’t on your end, here’s the address:

    1. Hayam says:

      Thanks a million for your help.

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