What methods can be used in connection with songs?
According to Larsen Freeman (2000) there are numerous methods or approaches to teaching to choose from, whether teachers want or need to observe a specific one or practice principled eclecticism and mix and match from them to create a personal blend. Looking at the methods over time (Larsen Freeman, 2000, p.178) nevertheless shows one thing very clearly – no matter which of the methodologies you choose to follow, one method only or a personal blend, it is always possible to use songs.
With the methods that focus on teaching the language they can be used either as a text to translate in the grammar-translation method, drill the song lyrics to practice patterns in audio-lingual method, or even deduct grammar in the cognitive code approach. With the methods that focus more on teaching students and a humanistic approach to language learning, songs can serve as tools to overcome psychological barriers to learning and help increase attention as suggested by the Community language learning method. By listening to songs, you can give students the time they need before they are ready to speak and clarify meanings with the use of visuals. Songs are often suitable as an information gap basis as often they just give clues to the story behind. In Task-based teaching, a song can be used as an introduction to a problem-solving activity or help open up new topics. Last but not least, activities with songs will teach the students to share, cooperate and reflect on their own learning. (methods and descriptions adapted from Larsen Freeman, 2000, p.178)
In the end, rather than one or the other method that can be used with songs, they are most valuable because they take the focus off the course-book and instead – if used properly – focus on the students, making the lessons personal and emotionally real for them. This is important if we consider the students in our classes to be more interesting than the rather cardboard characters found in the traditional coursebook, it follows that a real need exists for activities where the students are invited to speak to each other and express their ideas using structures that have already been presented to them. Practising structures in this very personal series of contexts is much more emotionally real than practicing them in the make-belief world of a textbook. (Frank and Rinvolucri, 1991, p.6).
Frank, C. & Rinvolucri, M. (1991). Grammar in Action Again: Awareness activities for language learning. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall
Larsen-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.