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Want to learn English? Turn the music on...

A two-day workshop organised by American Library in Kolkata aims to help teachers make English enjoyable in class with the use of music, reports Mou Chakraborty.

kolkata Updated: May 23, 2007 01:28 IST
Mou Chakraborty
Mou Chakraborty
Hindustan Times

Want to teach adjectives to the students? Well, how about turning on the music! Want to introduce a new English word in the class? Just pick up a chart buster English song and play it in the class!

Well these are the tricks being taught by American English Language Training Experts Jennifer R Crandall to over 80 English language teachers from all over the state. The two-day workshop organised by American Library starting on Tuesday aims at helping teachers to make teaching English enjoyable in class. Teachers from schools, colleges, universities and BEd colleges joined participated in this workshop.

Music can be used in classroom to enhance English listening skills, promote critical thinking, encourage discussion and above all to understand the words and the language. "Using music as a teaching tool generates interest among the students about the subject. They can connect with the medium that the teacher uses and hence can internalize the knowledge and do not forget in a hurry," said Crandall, a Senior English Language Fellow of English Language Programmers. "This technique can be applied to all level of learners right from those in the kindergarten to those in the university," she added.

According to Crandall to begin with the teachers can use English songs in the class to introduce and explain new words. Taking a step further the students can be asked to explain the meaning of the lyrics. "This can be done by asking them to frame questions on the lyrics and also prepare multiple choice answer for them. In this way the student never tends to forget what he has learnt. More over with the kind of answers everyone in the class come up with the teachers understand clearly who the weak student are without having a formal exam but through fun," she added.

Music can be used to teach the students grammar and while introducing or wrapping up a chapter in class. "Say if a teacher is teaching adjective she can put a bank on every seven or ten words which might have an adjective and ask the students to fill them up. And in that way she can introduce or wrap up the topic in class," Crandall added.

Even topics which are concerning the school students of today can be addressed though music. "If we are trying to discuss about alienation of youth then I would introduce a song named ‘Superman’ by 5-4 fighting, sung by a Canadian group to the class. And would ask them what they feel about superman. The song talks about how alienated he feels and by discussing it we instigate the students to discuss about their alienation unknowingly. And in that process they get to talk to their friends about the problem and find relief in his peer group," Crandall said.

But finding the right song to teach the subject can be a very tough task. "It needs a great deal of research work on part of the teacher to pinpoint the right song. It can be popular or unknown, but the lyrics should help them to go ahead and explain what ever she is teaching or about to teach or have taught in class," she added.

"There are many websites which helps the teachers to hunt for English songs with ‘right lyrics’ which the teachers can log on to," Crandall added. The teachers can also pick up songs from the weekly list of top ten English songs given on the Internet and newspapers.

First Published: May 22, 2007 21:22 IST