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Songs + Techniques = Enhanced Language Acquisition

Songs + Techniques = Enhanced Language Acquisition

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Article points out the importance of using sound pedagogical practice when using music for second language purposes. Sample activities are included.
Article points out the importance of using sound pedagogical practice when using music for second language purposes. Sample activities are included.

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Published by: Forefront Publishers on Feb 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Songs + Techniques = Enhanced LanguageAcquisition
This Document Appeared in
 Volume 24, Number 2 Fall 2000
Suzanne L. Medina, Ph.D.Professor of Graduate EducationCalifornia State University, Dominguez Hills
E-Mail:smedina@forefrontpublishers.com There are various ways in which songs can be used to enhance secondlanguage acquisition, yet some are more effective than others. Accordingto the findings from an investigation on the effects of music upon Englishvocabulary acquisition, the combination of music and a pedagogically-sound technique produce greater second language acquisition than ispossible when using music alone (Medina, 1993). Unfortunately, fewcombine music and pedagogy in this way when using songs in the E.S.L.classroom. As a result, second language learners may not be fullybenefitting from the potentially powerful effects which music can have uponlanguage acquisition. The purpose of this session was to demonstrateseveral ESL-Music activities which merge songs and pedagogically-soundtechniques, thereby supporting the language acquisition process to thefullest extent. Several activities including the following were demonstratedduring this session. These activities come from an inventory of one-hundred similar activities. Beneath the title of the activity is a brief description of the activity followed by its pedagogical purpose and step-by-step instructions for the E.S.L. teacher. Activities have been classified intoone of three categories depending upon the point at which they support thelanguage acquisition process: Before the song is learned, while the song ispresented for the first time, or after it is learned. Depending upon theamount of support required, teachers may elect to engage students in oneor more of each of the three types of activities.
Section 1- Activities To Do Before the Song is Learned
 Description: Students dance to a song they will learn later on.Purpose: If students are presented with a song in which both melody andthe song lyrics are new, students may suffer from cognitive overload.Therefore, the intent of this activity is to familiarize students with the newmelody prior to hearing the lyrics for the first time. A second purpose is toallow "incidental learning" to occur. Often acquisition takes place in theabsence of explicit instruction.Steps:a. Play music in the background while student teams discuss ways inwhich the song can be choreographed. Students should be encouraged topractice their routines.b. Have groups perform for the larger group. The class will vote for thebest choreography.
 Description: Students learn the meaning of song vocabulary from oneanother in order to create a skit in which all vocabulary are used.Purpose: To learn the meaning of vocabulary words which students willhear in the song. By doing this, students will be able to comprehend thesignificance of the song's lyrics when they actually sing the song later on.Language acquisition cannot occur unless the second language is madecomprehensible to the learner (Krashen, 1985).
Steps:a. Make a short list of new vocabulary words which are found in the song'slyrics.b. Distribute a copy of this list to the students.c. Have groups of three or four students create a skit which incorporatesthe target vocabulary words. Students are encouraged to learn themeaning of these vocabulary by any and all means (e.g., each other,dictionaries).d. Ask student groups to perform their skits for the class. Use as manyprops and costumes as possible.

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