Pedagogical Approaches II: Music in the Language Classroom

Prevots, Aaron. Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX. November 2006.

This brief overview regarding music in the foreign-language classroom is an idea map for teachers wanting to include more songs in their lesson plans. Its aim is to synthesize typical approaches and provide quick suggestions. As with any material, songs work best when integrated relative to long-term objectives. See also music journals, second-language acquisition journals, resources such as those in this site’s bibliography and links, and Le Français dans le monde.

• Create a songs unit for one part of the semester
• Include one song per chapter (re grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking, course themes…)
• Assign pre-listening as homework (increasingly easy with online multimedia)
• Assign a related reading, or information to be gathered online
• Have students bring in a related object, image, article…
• Show an informational film clip (e.g., for teaching Cajun songs, J’ai été au bal)
• Share one version of a song, before playing an older or newer version the following day
• Have students choose the song to be studied in class (from a pre-selected group)
• Have students find information about an artist, theme, etc. (WebQuest, parcours sur Internet)
• Ask musically inclined students to bring an instrument

Pre-Listening (or Pre-Singing)
• What words relate to the song’s theme?
• Write a short text using these related words
• What instruments are being played?
• What is the musical category or genre into which the song fits?
• What ideas does the first listening of the song or viewing of the video suggest?
• What gestures might accompany the words (of a folk or children’s song)?
• If singing, practice pronunciation singularities, highlight key vocabulary
• Warm up with tongue twisters – virelangues (see below)
• Listen without the text
• Predict subject of song through title or first line (or with video: first image)
• Formulate hypotheses

While Listening (First Listen, Second Listen)
• If short on time: Use the song as a warmup or for closure
• If students not responding: Reconsider or reconfigure the second listen
• If singing a brief text, create groups for any repetition (e.g., call and response)
• If singing: Raise audio volume if melody is complicated; lower if you’d like students to be more vocal
• Remove selected words; students fill in blanks
• Remove selected words; provide word list and students circle what they hear (or, with words cut out and handed to pairs in envelopes, students *place* word in blank)
• Provide sentences or paragraphs out of order; students reorganize them
• Students circle key sounds
• Students raise hands upon hearing key words
• Place students in groups for analysis of selected verses
• Place students in groups to rewrite selected verses
• Rewrite song or particular verse(s) in a different register
• Rewrite song or particular verse(s) using rhyming dictionaries
• Each student writes down several words that best describe the song’s style and content
• Students fill in chart with information missing (e.g., who does what, where, when, why)
• Students fill in feedback form: a questionnaire including descriptive vocabulary and analysis prompts, with an invitation to develop a further evaluation of the song on the back of the sheet
• When using video as well, ask memory questions (Did you see any __, How many times does ___, Where does __ go and why, etc.); follow up by having students think of other detail questions their classmates must answer along with the second viewing

Post-Listening, Follow-Up
• Describe the place, the people, the themes; gender, racial, or ethnic roles…
• Describe the stylistic singularities: words, melody, rhythm, structure…
• Practice further the grammatical singularities most relevant to the day’s lesson
• Practice vocabulary (build lists of similar words; find definitions; write a summary or new song or story using 5-7 key words)
• Change the song’s grammar or vocabulary (change present tense to past or future, verbs or pronouns or adjectives into opposites)
• Summarize each phase of the song’s story (each verse or group of verses)
• Formulate hypotheses (to practice verb tenses)
• Revisit and expand on related textbook or online material
• Compare with other versions
• Debate related issues, subtext, secondary meanings…
• Match the song to a proverb, from a list (see below)
• Imagine a different title
• Students write own version of song, using same structure or similar words
• Students storyboard their own imagined versions of a video
• Students sketch a cover and/or insert design for an imagined CD release (in country of origin, in country in which class is taking place…)
• Students create a related comic book (”un roman photo”) with current software (Comic Life Deluxe, Snapz Pro)
• Students write a postcard, to a friend or to a person in the song
• Students write a main character’s story in what they imagine to be that person’s voice
• Students write CV’s for characters in the song, or several “petites annonces”
• Students prepare PowerPoint presentations on an artist, a genre, a region and its music
• Compare and contrast with thematically similar material
• Explore further meanings via dictionaries (monolingual; etymological; slang…)
• For texts with particularly familiar, slang or argot registers, rewrite into standard French
• For texts with phonetic, morphological or syntactic marks of orality, change to written style
• Group songs together; have students create an imaginary playlist and justify choices; have students imagine a MySpace account for people in the song
• Relate to stylistically similar material (e.g., poems, stories, video edits)
• Revisit related contextual material

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“Activité d’introduction.” Association canadienne d’éducation de langue française - ACELF. 15 November 2006 <http://acelf.ca/c/outils/a-texte/0074t.html>.

Boiron, Michel. “Approches pédagogiques de la chanson.” TV5 Monde. 15 October 2006 <http://www.tv5.org/TV5Site/enseignants/concept_approches_d.php>.

“Comment exploiter une chanson.” 15 November 2006 http://www.moeys-elibrary.org/

“Créer et mettre en ligne un parcours pour ses élèves.” Francparler.org. 15 November 2006 <http://www.francparler.org/fiches/tice_parcours.htm>.

Demougin, Françoise, and Pierre Dumont. Cinéma et chanson: Pour enseigner le français autrement: Une didactique du français langue seconde. Paris: Delagrave, 1999. ISBN 2206081539.

Espace Francophone. 15 October 2006 <http://www.espacefrancophone.org/audiovisuel/fiche.htm>.

“Jeu de piste sur Internet.” “La chanson d’expression française.” Francparler.org. 15 November 2006 <http://www.francparler.org/parcours/chanson.htm>.

Jarausch, Hannelore, and Clare Tufts. “Raï, Rap, Rock: Francophone Music in the Classroom.” ACTFL 2002. Salt Lake City, UT. 23 November 2002.

Kronenberg, Felix. Presentation in session “Integrating the ‘Five C’s’ of the National Standards for Foreign Language Education with Pedagogy and Technology.” National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE) conference “Pedagogy and Digital Technologies: Language Labs in the 21st Century.” Wabash College. Wabash, IN. 30 September 2006.

Marques, Lidia. “La chanson d’expression française.” Francparler.org. 15 November 2006 <http://www.francparler.org/articles/chanson2006.htm>.

Murphey, Tim. Music and Song. Oxford Resource Books for Teachers series. New York: Oxford UP, 1992. ISBN 0194370550.

Thompson, Brian. La Clef des chants: La Chanson dans la classe de français. 15 October 2006 <http://www.faculty.umb.edu/brian_thompson/clef.htm>.

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Virelangues (suite)