16 jul 2019 Let’s Face the Music: A Song Project With Teens
Students’ real-world contact with English plays hands down a more realistic role in the development of their skills, rather than the few hours they spend in the classroom. Taking this into account, it is high time teachers worked as mediators between learners and their (desirable) daily exposure to the language.
But is it enough to just tell students to do something at home, such as “listen to songs in English more often” or “watch films and series with original audio and English subtitles”? We don’t think it is. So, walking them through it will make a big difference!
That’s why on this post we’ll share a project that can be developed with your students all along the school year.
This project consists of assigning learners a weekly task that will include a song. Alternatively, you can also work with a film, a series episode, a YouTube video, blogs, articles, websites and books.
We’re going to give you instructions of how it can be done using a song:
1 – On the first day of the project, pre-select songs that you think learners will enjoy. Choose a number of songs that fits the number of students in class. (Here’s a song selection that might appeal to teenagers).
2 – Create a worksheet similar to this one. (Feel free to download and use ours).
3 – Write the names of the songs on post-it notes and stick them on the wall (or a poster).
4 – Each student will take one post-it note containing the name of a song.
5 – Hand out the worksheets and explain they have to listen to that song at home while doing the tasks from the worksheet. (Note that you’ll print this worksheet for each student just once, since they’ll repeat the same tasks throughout the project. They can use their own notebooks to carry out the tasks).
6 – Designate a station in the classroom for the vocabulary bank. This is where students will include the three words they’ll learn from the songs.
7- In the beginning of the following class, allow them time to transfer the three words they’ve chosen into this station.
8 – Pair the students up and ask them to talk about their thought towards the song. (If you have an A2 level group, ask them to use the prompts on the worksheet).
9 – Collect feedback from the whole group to promote interaction. (Suggestion for big groups: from the beginning, each student could be assigned a number. Such numbers would be in a bag, and some of them could be drawn every class to ensure all students participate in the group feedback as well as prevent the same talkative students to raise their hands in all classes and steal the thunder from the shier ones).
10 – Now, they will suggest their own songs, the same way the teacher did on the previous class. They should write the name of the song on a piece of paper.
11 – Students will exchange their selected songs with a partner and steps 1 – 10, described above, will be repeated; but now with their peers’ suggestion.
12 – In the following week, the pairs will then have some time to talk and that conversation should include:
– Student A’s explanation why they had suggested that particular song.
– Student B’s opinion about it.
13 – Then, students exchange roles. Encourage them to talk freely about the song as much as they can.
14 – From now on, the songs will always be chosen by the students themselves. The teacher will choose the songs on the post-its just the first time.
- How does this project help your students feel more connected to English?
Teenagers are often passionate about music and they are keen on sharing their likes with others. It is part of our world to express ourselves through things we like. Therefore, providing them with the opportunity to talk about the songs they enjoy will prove engaging and effective. It might also reinforce their independent learning since this project is focused on what they like. What’s more, it’s a way of showing them more appealing alternatives they can practice at home, having fun at the same time. It’s an effective method to trigger positive emotions, which are one of the brain’s mechanisms in charge of long-term memory consolidation.
- What is the main aim of this project?
Fostering students’ independent learning through authentic material outside the classroom.
- What are the subsidiary aims?
Motivating students to be open to different opinions regarding music and the myriad topics for discussion it presents them with as well as respect for others’ preferences while learning from their friends’ suggestions, which is bound to promotes empathy and a sense of fellowship.
Encouraging them to find material in English that is related to their interests.
We hope this project helps you create a light and fun atmosphere in the classroom. Feel free to adapt it according to your context. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
A licensed Biology teacher who fell in love with English language teaching in 2011, Michelle Hudson holds the CELTA, TKTs Modules 1-3 and a TESOL certificate from Languages International (Auckland, NZ). She is now based in Seville – Spain, teaching at English Connection and also private students.