I love it when music talks for me but I also love just talking about music. (Dah!) It’s one of those universal areas where (almost) everyone has an opinion. How they express it, is a different matter.
“So X, what kind of music do you like?”
“Any particular bands?”
“What do you think of Adele?”
“What do you think of One Direction?”
I’m obviously generalising here but the above is pretty much the standard conversation even in pre- or intermediate classes. Not because the students don’t have an opinion but because they lack the practise (or sometimes the language skills) to express it.
So I jumped at the idea of using music segments to practise it. The standard flow with KET* and FCE* classes was as follows:
1. Start with questions to warm up: what did you listen to today, ask the next student what they think of that particular artist/song, do you often listen to them etc.
2. Verbs to express feelings: put a number of verbs such as can’t stand, mad about (KET*) or loathe, adore etc. (FCE*) on a love/hate scale.
3. Introduce the concept of hit or miss. Listen to 2 song-snippets (about 30 seconds) and ask the class if they think it’s hit/miss. (It’ll help me later to know what kind of songs to bring them that they’ll enjoy rather than assume what they’ll like.) As a reference for discussion I also wrote the song titles and artists on the board.
4. Listen to 2-3 more snippets and use the verbs to express their more precise feelings.
5. Put a list of adjectives into the hit or miss category. Would you use brilliant and awful etc. (KET*) or delightful and horrendous (FCE*) to describe a hit or a miss song?
6. Listen to 2-3 more snippets where students use the verbs AND the adjectives to describe the songs.
7. Review/collect expressions and phrases to express opinion.
8. Listen to more snippets to use those expressions with verbs and adjectives. Ideally at this stage students would use sentences such as “I think Bad Romance by Lady Gaga is a brilliant song and I’m mad about it.” (KET*) or “Some people may disagree with me but I can’t stand Small Bump by Ed Sheeran, in my opinion it’s nauseating.” (FCE*)
I have used this in 4 classes and I’ve found that mixing the songs with the various exercises gives the best result and the best atmosphere too. I made the mistake of listening to all the songs after part 3 above and the followed discussion was less lively than with the class where I broke the list up.
I have relatively small classes (4-10 students) so we were able to have discussions about the songs together, didn’t need to break them up for pair work or into smaller groups. In the bigger class with the 10 teenagers it got very lively at some stage (as in: loud) and I had to insist on calling out the kids instead of letting the confident ones shout in their opinions and the quiet or lazy ones getting away with not doing anything. But yeah, that’s class management for you, it’s a rare miracle when you have a group students equally interested and motivated to participate. (Thank god I have some of those groups, otherwise I’d already gone mad at this job! Lol)
Generally, as a music fan, I really enjoyed bringing various genres from my collection to the class. I made sure we had songs from Sia to Nightwish or from Kelly Clarkson to The Piano Guys. As in my previous experiences, having songs in the class I know and love (yeah, I do love them all) made me a lot more relaxed and less teacher-y. It also helped me to relate to my students on a more personal level. “Look at that, that smug 13-year-old enjoys Vivaldi!”
The teens were also keen on showing me Spanish music in turn and I’m sad to report that the “Bieber-fever” has reached Spain, too. As much as I want to be accommodating with their music taste, I will absolutely not have his songs as part of my class 🙂
Turning to you: in your best English but using one sentence only, what do you think of this acoustic version of Titanium from Sia? 🙂
Please click here to visit one of my other blogs, The Script Bible where I share beautiful picture quotes from The Script songs.
Today’s featured blogger is Misha from our awesome D’s Company who will share details and extracts from her upcoming book, Endless. Check out, you’ll love it endlessly! (Sorry, bad pun lol)
*KET and FCE are Cambridge English exam levels for A2 (pre) and B2 (intermediate) respectively.