The following blog post was written by Beena Wiebe, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.
Are you one of those teachers that have always wanted to use music in the class but thought you had to be a good singer or musician? The good news is that it is not necessary to have any of those qualifications. Using
So why use music?
- It’s a great way to overcome barriers! Initially, many of our learners are new to the classroom. Start off with a welcome song and get some movement and rhythm. Soon, they will be in charge and you don’t have to feel awkward, especially, if you’re not the “dancing sort”.
- It makes grammar more interesting. Why not use songs and rhymes with difficult grammar and spelling rules that need to be memorized? (‘i before e’ , irregular verbs, phrasal verbs, new tense)
- It uses images to teach and build vocabulary. It helps in the retention and processing of the targeted material. This has proven to be a very effective way of learning for my students.
Music is an indispensable tool that helps overcome many barriers that educators and learners may have in teaching and learning a new language. The internet is an excellent resource to find songs and adapt material for your class level.
I have been involved with ESL literacy at Bow Valley College for six years. For the past year, a commited group of learners and instructors have met weekly to form the choir Rhythms of the Valley. The choir brings together a diverse group of people. Choir members come from many different countries, including Afghanistan, Burma, Korea, Colombia, China and Sudan.
We have been singing at graduation ceremonies and for different classes within the college. This year, we performed at the Olympic Plaza and TD Square in Calgary.
The vision of the choir is to support literacy through the use of folk songs from around the world and to celebrate immigrant stories through song. The choir also hopes to gain more recognition in the wider Calgary community.