In this blog post I want to share an activity to make authentic songs comprehensible. The idea is not mine– it comes by way of Kara Jacobs. She has created examples of the technique in Spanish and I am hoping I can bring the community of French teachers on board.
Kara writes a script to tell the story of a music video. Well, actually she writes all kinds of stories and one type of story that she writes is from music videos. I find this idea to be ingenious because it is another way to give comprehensible input to your students while sharing a song with them. Songs grab students’ attention and are as such a way to get students to engage with material.
Here are the steps following Kara’s format with the French resources linked to start you out while using the song Rien à vous dire by Jérôme Minière.
- Give students a sheet with six boxes. Read the story out loud, stopping at the end of each paragraph. Students draw what they hear on the handout.
- Show the video.
- Have students read the story. Collect back the story.
- Have students unscramble the story.
- Play Quizlet live with blanks for the verbs in the sentences.
- For homework, students rewrite the story and change three things, including the end of the story. Have them use their pictures to remember what happens in the story.
- Students read their stories to their group and the other group members need to identify the changes. Group votes on the best story. Teacher reads out loud the best stories and the group members become the actors for the mother, father, boy / Jérôme, teacher and a couple students. Maybe do three stories.
- Teacher has students underline the verbs in their stories and does a class workshop to correct the verbs. Students hand in stories for teacher to read and respond to content and humor only, not verb tense.
I think that stories from music videos work well with Intermediate Low learners. There is yet another great way to deliver comprehensible input for songs that I think works better for Novice Mid learners and I learned from posts by Elizabeth Barron on Musique Mercredi. Elizabeth write stories about penguins to preview vocabulary from current songs. I wrote a penguin story in the same style. You can see the original Penguin Stories on the Musique Mercredi Music Facebook page. Join the group and search on Elizabeth Barron’s name.
We are back to school and I am trying to connect with my students and one way is through music. I play music for them because I believe it is a way to understand culture better, but even without that I would share music because I think it is powerful to use the arts in teaching.
Here are some relatively new songs that I will be sharing with my 8th graders this year:
Soprano – À la vie à l’amour
Bénabar – Feu de joie
Bigflo et Oli – Dommage
OrelSan – La pluie (avec Stromae)
Lou – A mon âge
Nassi – Rêves de Gamin
Keen’ V – Tu Réalises
Angèle – La Loi de Murphy
There are other songs that I incorporate in teaching for language input. These songs here, on the other hand, I will use for the class to listen to and comment on. I am hoping that students can talk about their opinion of the music, message and the video. If you are looking for ideas on how to do that, a great resource is the files from Mercredi Musique on Facebook, especially the one that is called the same name “Musique Mercredi”.
Current practice for teaching language using songs seems to be word clouds and cloze activities. A word cloud is a jumble of words and the student circles the words that are heard in the song. This is a solid listening activity as are cloze activities, where the students fill in the missing words in the song lyrics. I have used both strategies to help give my students something to support them as they listen to songs that otherwise might be overwhelming. I also see teachers use a song to give students examples of grammar to then have an indirect lesson on grammar. I am also a fan of this approach where you guide students to examples of the grammar structure, have them deduce the rules then ask them to do a writing assignment that has students using the grammar without implicitly asking for it, perhaps in the form of an Exit ticket.
For me yet a new way of teaching using songs is emerging. As I’ve mentioned on these pages before, TV5 Monde’s Paroles des clips is an excellent source for activities to use with songs in the classroom. Two of my favorite examples are On écrit sur les murs by Kids United and Cette Anée là by M. Pokora. As these are activities that are pushing into new territory, let’s see what we can gather from them. In Cette Année Là, students are asked to react to the song by giving their opinion, which is spot on for the proficiency-based classroom. I decided to adopt this kind of activity and use it for other songs, like Frérot and Le Plus Fort du Monde both by Black M.. I wrote the linked handouts with the help of my colleague Heather Pineault. We still use cloze activities as well and another new-to-us idea is to have students comment on what they see, like you will see in the activity I made for the song Papa by Bigflo et Oli. And a final technique we incorporate to use songs to further communication is to have students understand a structure in a song and then make it their own by doing a short writing assignment about something personal to them using the structure. You see an example of that in the activity for Le Plus Fort du Monde where students then write about their own family members.
Activities that ask students to identify words, while a good way to have them focus their listening, don’t give a chance for the same level of communication as activities that ask students to react to the song, give one’s opinion, talk about what they see and write about oneself.
My Level 1 French students have songs to recommend. These are songs where they like the tune and we have listened to them a few times since I introduced them. The first time I play the song we do Interpretive activities, which you will find below. Later we listen to the songs while we are working.
Most of these songs I found on TV5 Monde’s Paroles de Clips. The site has music videos for teaching French and activities which are leveled. I have found the offerings to be current and carefully chosen. I collect appropriate French music for teaching on a Music Video Board on Pinterest.
We watch the video as we listen to the song, because the visual gives context and for that reason I especially like videos that tell the story of the song. Seeing that I teach 7th and 8th graders, the song’s lyrics and its video has to be appropriate for that age. I have a native speaker at each grade level, so I can’t get away with anything!
Elle me dit de Mika Activity: Elle me dit
Papaoutai de Stromae Activity: Papaoutai
En été de La reine des neiges Activity: En été
Rien à vous dire de Jérôme Minière Activity: Rien a vous dire
La Seine de Vanessa Paradis et M Activity: La Seine