Here in Japan, music can be heard at all times. Whether it’s the early morning chants from local temples, or the late night trance music being played in seedy bars, music is everywhere.
One of my favorite uses of music is in department stores where jingles are played varying according to the products on the floor. These range from absurd, childish xylophone melodies on continuous repeat, to forgotten 80’s pop songs (one of my local stores plays Bowie’s Let’s Dance several hundred times a day). In fact, even if you go to one of my lessons you are likely to hear some music. How can you use music in TEFL?
Music at school
I have used music in at least two ways. One was to play some songs from a variety of genres and get opinions and descriptions from the students. They found it engaging and it was a valuable way to teach adjectives and how to express oneself.
A second way was to hand out a worksheet with the lyrics of a song. The worksheet, however, contained some errors, missing words, and some word choices. It was excellent listening practice, although you do need to be aware of gauging the level of the song to the level of the students. The students were also asked to describe what the song was about, which drew out some very interesting answers and a discussion on artistic themes.
Some more suggestions
Paul Jinks has some excellent worksheets on music in TEFL. Meanwhile, ESL Galaxy recommends that students should find grammatical mistakes in songs and tidy them up.
Music as culture
TEFL students are generally interested not only in the English language, but also in the culture of English speaking countries, so music is an ideal way of combining both aspects of learning English.
Professor Larry M. Lynch writes also about the positive effects of music on the brain to stimulate learning. He even goes so far as to suggest a soundtrack. The music can also be used to time exercises and control the mood of the class.
I recently explored using DVDs in TEFL, so take a look here for more interesting advice.
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