Communication through music

Making the transition from teaching a list of vocabulary words to teaching students to communicate on a topic can be challenging, especially when teaching novice students who learn through memorized chunks of language. This March for the Manie Musicale or March Madness bracket of songs, I was a little stuck on using one approach over and over. The Chat Mat where students would make a sentence or two about whether or not they liked a song was the basis for all of my lessons, until I realized that my students had more to say about music than, “I like the song because the rhythm is catchy”. 

French teachers around the country and in my own department have shared their resources for talking about music and I have greatly benefitted. You will see a form of a chat mat in my set of slides that was posted to the Manie Musicale Facebook group. Also, from the same source, there is a sheet for students to fill out about each song so that they can see multiple songs at a glance. These resources are excellent and I am so appreciative that their authors shared them.

My other source for inspiration was the week-long bootcamp that I took with OWL, Organic World Language. The games and activities you will see in my slides are from this excellent communicative approach, but what’s more is the way this bootcamp re-oriented my approach to teaching. Students learn language through the act of communicating and negotiating meaning. In this instance, students react to songs that they listen to in class and tell each other their opinions, preferences and motivation when listening to music. 

I hope that with these example lessons you will have your students communicate with each other on the topic of music to increase their proficiency in the language. Here is a set of slides. In the speaker notes there are links to other documents and directions for how to do the activities. Notice the standards that I incorporated. I wanted students to react to music, talk about what music is for them as well as use their interpretive skills to understand the lyrics to a set of simple songs that correspond to their language level. These songs have high frequency words for Novice learners and are therefore a good fit for the Novice learner’s interpretive work. For reacting to the music, you can use more popular and current songs. I wish you the best as you use music to increase students’ proficiency.

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