Here’s a great site for students and also for teachers who might be learning the foreign language of the country they work in. Lyrics Training is an innovative site where you listen to popular songs and complete the lyrics. There are three levels: Easy and Medium (10% and 25% gapfill respectively) and Hard, in which you must listen and complete the entire song. There are a variety of songs in English, but you could also brush up on Spanish, French or German to name but a few.
Here’s another great activity from Catherine Morley’s TESOL-SPAIN workshop…
Type up the lyrics to part of a song and stick them on the wall outside the classroom. Put students into pairs and then explain that student A has to go outside, read and remember part of the text and then come back in and dictate it to their partner who writes it down. This works well if you put a line halfway through the song so that the students swap roles. Remind students that they can’t shout and (depending on space) can’t run. When students have finished, check the lyrics for spelling mistakes and then play the song for them to follow.
I did this activity with a Primary group the other day, using one of the songs from their coursebook – as you know, I’m always looking for ways to exploit those songs! They really enjoyed the activity – it was competitive but very inclusive: the stronger students perhaps did it a little quicker, though they still made some mistakes, and for weaker students it was an opportunity to use the skills they have, but which are sometimes afraid to show when doing group or whole class activities. And even though there was a competitive nature to the activity, there was no “reward” for doing the activity faster.
As I was writing yesterday’s post, I realised that I do something like a dictogloss with my Young Learners, but I’d just never realised that’s what I was doing! At school, we use the Bugs series of books by Macmillan and they have some really fun songs in them, though I sometimes want to do more with the song than just ask students to sing it. So, without opening their books, I play the song and ask them to write down all the words they hear. Then I put the song on the board with spaces where the words should be and students take it in turns to say words they heard. I write them on in the correct space and then, when students have run out of words, I play the song again and ask them to write down any words they’re missing. At this point, they’re able to follow the song on the board and so they are more focused on specific words.
I think one of the key aspects of classes with YLs is routines – it creates a comfort zone for them and practises certain parts of English which we want to drill into them from an early age. The problem with routines though, is that sometimes they’re a bit too “routine” and students get bored of them.
A great way to “mix it up” a bit is to sing the same songs in different ways…how many can you think of?
I’m thoroughly enjoying one class of five-year-olds this year and I think it’s all because of the power of song. Teaching VYLs is all about just letting go of your inhibitions and playing a part – whether that part is singer, entertainer or teacher depends on the activity.
I’m not going to start posting recordings of the songs I’m doing in class, but so far we’ve done one with colours and we’re just learning one with numbers 1-10. I also don’t think I’ll be releasing an album anytime soon, as most of my material is vague covers of already popular nursery rhymes!