You are on page 1of 4

UsingJazz Chantsin an EFLclassroom If you are looking for fun ways to enlarge your students vocabulary, to enable them

em to practice pronunciation, stress, rhythm and intonation, to introduce or practice lexis and grammar in context, to improve their speaking and listening skills then jazz chants might be a great solution. Jazz chants were introduced by Carolyn Graham. A jazz chant is a short poem or chant that illustrates natural stress and intonation of conversational American English. I learned about jazz chants in 1995, and since then I have been using them in my classroom very successfully. I remember teaching an elementary English course to a group of adults in Kazakhstan, and one of the first jazz chants that I introduced to that group was Tell me your name please. About two weeks later, one of my students came to class very excited. He was working for the Miners Trade Union, and on that day he met with some American business people who visited his company. He said that at first he got nervous, but then tell me your name please popped up in his head, and this was how he started his first conversation with native speakers. Apparently, it broke the ice very quickly, and

his affective filter lowered which allowed him to continue the conversation successfully. My Arabic students commented that learning jazz chants gave them an opportunity to become more fluent. I often ask my students to experiment with mood or emotion or intonation. For instance, I tell them to recite a jazz chant as if they are angry or very excited. Moreover, our Emirati students are very good at memorizing, and I believe given enough meaningful chunks to memorize they have an opportunity to practice vocabulary in context. I was pleasantly surprised one day when one of my Emirati students raised her hand and asked, "May I switch off the light?" instead of the usual Arlish "Can I close the light?" Prior to this incident, I taught a jazz chant "May I switch of the light?" which I found on www.onestopenglish.com. When I responded with "Sure", the whole class joined in "Sure, sure, sure" which also comes from this jazz chant. For these reasons, I find this technique very useful. Yet I was surprised to find out that very few of my coworkers at HCT use it in class. There is a variety of different fun ways to use jazz chants in class. The basic one is choose a jazz chant you find appropriate for your class, make a copy for each student. In class play the track so that students can listen to it. If necessary, explain unfamiliar vocabulary. Then give the paper copy to the students, play the recording, and have students read along. Have them repeat line after line in

chorus after you or the recording. Let them practice in pairs. Other ways to use jazz chants in the classroom include the following: 1. Type up a jazz chant, print it out and then cut it into sentences. In class ask the students to put them in the order they think these sentences come in the jazz chant. Have them work either in pairs or in groups of no more than four. If your group is pre-intermediate, you may want to cut the sentences in half and have them match the beginnings with the endings, and then re-order the sentences. This way the students are engaged in the activity that challenges them to utilize their existing knowledge to solve the problem. 2. Pre-teach the vocabulary that might unfamiliar to the students. Have them listen to the jazz chant and ask which words they hear before or after the introduced vocabulary. Ask them if they heard any other words that sound new. Put them on the board and if necessary explain their meanings. 3. Prepare a cloze version of a jazz chant (see the attachment) and have students complete it while listening to the jazz chant. 4. As a follow up activity, ask your students to create a Power Point Presentation to illustrate a jazz chant. If your students use iPads, then they can use Keynote App to create a presentation.

5. Another follow-up activity is to record the jazz chant using the Soundnote App. Then they can send their recording to you, and you can identify your student's pronunciation problems and address them later.

References Craven, Miles. "Jazz Chants." Onestopenglish. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 May 2013. Graha , Car!lyn, and Marilyn ". #!senthal. Jazz Chants Old and New. Ne$ %!r&' ()*!rd +,, 2001. ,rint.