Teaching English through songs

Seminar Paper, 2009

11 Pages, Grade: 15


Table of Contents

1 Abstract

2 Skills Integration

3 The natural approach
3.1 The natural input
3.2 The affective filter
3.3 The monitor model
3.4 I-plus-one

4 The neglected skill

5 More than words
5.1 The necessity of metaphor

6 Epilogue

7 References

1 Abstract

Music has been used for the ESL/EFL class for decades. This is mainly due to the fact that songs from English speaking countries are a worldwide predominant cultural fact. One can even go so far as to state that English became the lingua franca on account of the major influences this medium has had on cultures around the globe up to date. With a humongous variety of youth oriented – and most notably, youth accepted – songs in the target language, it is patently obvious that this material is most suitable, practical and applicable for the integration of literacy skills in the classroom. After all, infants learn to sing before they speak and it appears that this natural propensity is maintained over a long period, considering the fact that most youngsters spend more time with American music than with anything else. This poses two questions; can music enhance the acquisition of a second language in general and the student’s reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities in particular? In this essay, I will commence with the establishment of a connection between these literacy skills and music. In the process, I will then try to shed some light on various linguistic hypotheses that can serve to be used as a scientific basis for the song oriented approach, enhance my attempt using examples and conclude with some assorted practical applications.

2 Skills Integration

Since the purpose of language teaching and learning is defined as developing intercultural communicative competence (cf. Müller-Hartmann, 2009: 18), it is clearly visible that language learning

is not only concerned with acquiring knowledge (about grammar and pronunciation systems, for example) – it is not just something we learn about. Rather, it is a skill, or a set of skills – something we learn to do, like riding a bike. So, students need meaningful, interactive practise in the skills in order to learn to use the language(Gower et al. 1995: 85)

These skills must be developed in an integrated way, that is, not in isolation and independently from each other because most situations of language use involve a mixture of skills which are interrelated. Let us take a closer look at this demand with the help of an example. Students are listening to a song from a CD player, while doing so, they are writing down some notes on bits of information they can use for the discussion that is to follow. This listening activity may be introduced by a note-making activity to tap into student’s musical preferences and experiences and may be followed by a joint action, like a class choir, in which some of the information students have taken from listening to the lyrics is used in oral production. A learning activity like this takes into account the learner and the social contexts in which language learning takes place (provided the song comes from such a context). This almost automatically leads us to

3 The natural approach

The “natural approach” hypothesis by Krashen claims that “language acquisition occurs in only one way: by understanding messages” (Krashen, 1983: 1). Messages are far better understood when there is an initial interest in the way, shape or form they are delivered in. It is an anthropological constant that interest is almost automatically aroused when words come with music. Warlords, politicians, advertising experts and sports event organizers have understood and successfully put to work this principle all along.

Learners acquire language when they obtain comprehensible input and understand what they read or hear. This means that the process is based primarily on what they hear and understand, not what they say. But even though comprehensible input is necessary for language acquisition, it is by no means sufficient. As everybody involved in the acquisitional process knows, there are some very effective prerequisites to it. Briefly, the acquirer has to be “open” to the input in order to fully utilize it for acquisition. In describing this, I would like to use an aspect of Krashen’s theory that is defined as


Excerpt out of 11 pages


Teaching English through songs
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen  (Anglistik)
Teaching English as a Foreign Language II
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
687 KB
Teaching, English
Quote paper
Richard Grünert (Author), 2009, Teaching English through songs, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/154458


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