Songs to assist second language learners
Teachers often used songs to assist second language learners in learning a second language. This might be surprising for those who are not familiar with the strategy. This is because the literature abounds with the encouraging statements concerning the effectiveness of songs as a medium for first and second language acquisition. Jalongo and Bromley, 1984 stated that second language learners improve spelling, obtain vocabulary and grammar, and build up the language skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening by the use songs. Songs is advantageous for still other reasons according to some educator of second language learners. For most of student especially teenagers singing songs and listening to music are the most popular hobbies. Normally students won't interfere because they are totally engage with the lesson. This hobby is so delightful that it is not uncommon for. Moreover their confidence level rises when students repeatedly sing songs.
Furthermore, when pleasurable environment experienced by students in the classroom, they will be more relaxed and their mental will be prepared to absorb a second language lesson. So far, based on my experience students are more active than usual while they are dealing with song activities, and simultaneously more interested to learning. Through songs, students will be introduce to the real examples of the second language. Target vocabulary, Grammar, patterns, and routine are mould in context also. Despite the fact that not every single person may like songs, most can relate to the stories told in songs itself. Events such as love, death and even loneliness happen to almost everyone, including ESL/EFL students. This is the reason why songs make a great impetus for English language lessons.
1.2 Background to the problem
The Integrated Secondary School Curriculum or Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah (KBSM) was planned in accordance with the National Education Philosophy. The main goal of KBSM was based on the integrated self-development with orientation towards society or nation (Mak Soon Sang, 2003). Four language skills namely listening, speaking, reading and writing are incorporated in the English syllabus proficiency in order to meet their needs to use English in everyday life, for knowledge acquisition, and for future workplace needs (Kementerian Pendidikan Malaysia, 2000).
A common problem for ESL teachers is how to deal with a unreceptive class where students avoid interaction and irresponsive. Actually, this can be a frustrating experience for both parties. So, how can teachers utilize songs to create an enjoyable learning atmosphere? How can teachers deal with the problem and persuade students to use the target language in the ESL classroom? Using songs is a natural way to experience rich language in a pleasurable way, and Oral language is an interactive and social process (Woodall & Ziembrosk). In fact, throughout the literature for using songs in the classroom there are a number of reasons introduced. For the most part, there a number of linguistic, affective and cognitive reasons. According to many scholars, songs are among the best ways of teaching a foreign language. Songs are an important aspect of culture which representing the folklore, history, and current idiom of a country according to the authors of Spectrum Prentice-Hall Regents Publications state that. Students' can feel confidence by singing and allow them to enjoy a quantity of fluency in English before they have achieved it in speaking. In addition, songs can be incorporated into all listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. English music and lyrics have been made easier by The World Wide Web being established in both the classroom and students' daily lives have made access to. Similarly, Lo and Li (1998) suggest learning through songs develops a conducive classroom environment where the four skills can be improved and that songs provide a fracture from classroom routine. Some of the renowned authors also state that the belief that songs offer pleasure and capable to expand language skills Guglimino, Monreal, (1982) Domoney&Harris, (1993) Bechtold (1983) Griffee, (1992) (1986) Lems, (1984) Little, (1983) and Adamowski, (1997)
1.3. Statement of the problem
Many rural school students have difficulty in understanding English, and they have often found it difficult to read English books on their own (Ratnawati and Ismail, 2003). Students' lack of proficiency in English deprives them of the opportunities open to those who are able to use the language well. Recently, the teaching and learning of English has been discussed widely in Malaysia. This is because the low level of English proficiency among students hinders them from acquiring knowledge globally. Student's interest are the key for teachers to make the student experience in the ESL classroom more exciting especially in the rural area to help them understand English better and hence, songs are use as an effective teaching and learning tool.
Because of the students' difficulty in understanding the language, teachers need to assist them thoroughly in the learning process. With the use of songs, this will gain their interest to stay focus in the class and not being de-motivated in learning the target language. To increase a student's awareness of rhyming patterns and alliteration in reading or writing a sense of rhythm can be used. The experience to genuine English is an important factor to promote language learning. Memory skills can be improved and aural discrimination increased through songs (Chong & Can, 1997). Songs can promote learning through interactive processes and focus the mind on the sound being perceived. It is important to use music in coordination with language lessons as they have been part of the human experience for as long as we can remember and have become an essential part of our language experience. If learners become conscious of hearing and imbalance skills by using songs, this can be of great value. Songs can help increase these listening skills in a pleasurable and enjoyable. Additionally, songs create an environment that is conducive in classroom in order to learn and sets the stage for listening and learning (Davies, 2000).
1.4. Purposes of the study
The purpose of this study is to know the perception of students and teachers for the use of songs in ESL classroom
1.5. Research questions
Research questions for this study are:
- What are the teacher perceptions towards the use of songs to teach English?
- What are the student perceptions towards the use of songs in the ESL classroom?
For this research, the researcher refers to Krashen's Second Language Hypotheses and Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
Krashen's Second Language Hypotheses
"Nativism" is one linguistic theoretical orientation that interprete second language in simply natural terms. According to this point of view, human beings in nature are set to process and thus obtain language either it is first or second language. The most widely known nativist Noam Chomsky (1965) claims that how fast an individual's acquire language from the environment itself is insufficient to account for a learner's input. Instead, he assumes that humans are born with knowledge which allows them to obtain the language. The learner have the ability to structure any language and attain it is because of this information.
Similarly, in the nativist practice is the work of Stephen Krashen (1982) five hypotheses or also known as the "Affective filter hypotheses". According to this Input Hypothesis by krashen, unknown and new vocabulary is acquired when its meaning is made clear to the learner. By providing extra linguistic support such as drawing, behaviour, photo, and realia meaning is conveyed. Krashen "Comprehensible input" refers to the linguistic input which is made clear to the second language learner .Krashen additional claim that impartial to the amount of vocabulary acquired is the amount of understandable input. Moreover, according Krashen (1989) state that vocabulary is received incidentally through the story because vocabularies which are recognizable in the stories that provide meaning to unknown vocabulary. When this happen picture that was illustrated will assist to define the meaning of unknown words. Mueller (1980) in his research give support that clarifying the meaning of verbal information that occurs will support the reading process. Briefly, meaning is significant for learners to acquire of second language vocabulary.
When second language learners hear lyrics of the songs where usually contain story line about life, love or friendship it is possible to acquire vocabulary at the same time. If the story songs are presented to the learner with picture, or gestures give the necessary extra linguistic support which results in language acquisition. The same thing if the learners use story telling strategies. Moreover, the positive effects that songs have towards second language learners help tp motivate learners and capture their attention of second language learners in way that story telling couldn't do. Songs that been use in the second language classroom is reliable with both of Krashen's hypotheses .
According Krashen's second hypothesis, the "Affective Filter hypothesis," learners inner feelings and attitude towards songs use in the second language classroom is acquired from the surroundings depends mainly upon the learner's "influence" the amount to which linguistic input. In this situation negative emotion can avoid the learner from making use of the linguistic input from his surroundings. The effect will lead to learner's feeling which are nervous, uninterested, or low self esteem. Therefore language acquisition will be limited and thus, teacher will confront with difficulty in providing an environment which can evokes positive emotion towards the learner's interest. This is the power of songs. It does not matter whether learners listen to instrumental songs, vocabulary in the target language, or sing in harmony like a choir, what important is their enjoyable experience in the classroom. Furthermore, some of the literature report that by singing songs in harmony can produces a sense working togethes and increases student self-confidence in learning second language. Thus, the most important thing is that however songs being used in the classroom can have the effect to create positive emotions in learners which can lower the "affective filter" of learners relation to language acquisition.
Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences
There are eight distinct intelligences; musical, spatial, logical, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal and naturalist Howard Gardner (1993). These distinct abilities appear to be independent of one another. The brains do not generally experience problems in other portions that is if a patients experience difficulties in one location in. Gardner (1998) state that all humans are born with a tendency to do extremely well in all of these areas, but their ability to make it become reality is mainly depend with the influences of one's culture, experiences and motivation level. As a result, most individuals be likely to stand out in only one or two of all the areas.
There is several implications for teachers to deal with individuals which are different from one another. Firstly, Gardner believes that educational institutions are responsible to cultivate these intelligences. Moreover, educators need to realize that historically schools only focus on the progress of only two of all intelligences which is linguistic and mathematical skills. According to Gardner, such perception is constricted since humans possess a better number of intelligences. That's why schools need to acknowledge and cultivate a broader variety of intelligences. Therefore, teachers need to teach in ways that valve a wide variety of intelligences. However, it is impossible to deal with all intelligences all the times. A variety of strategies need to be incorporate by educators so that they are successful to enhance learner's ability with more students than they have been in the past (Campbell, Campbell & Dickinson, 1996).
Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences with using songs as a medium for second language learning is undeniable. Songs can be used in so many ways to teach the second language to second language students. Students may be asked to listen to classical or jazz music to draw out verbal responses. Students may listen to a story song while the teacher points to picture illustrations of key vocabulary words in order to acquire new vocabulary. Or in another way, students may learn to sing songs with lyrics contain key target language structures. Without a doubt, there are thousands of ways in which songs can be used to teach the second language. Furthermore, those students who already possess this musical intelligence will experience more successful in learning process.
1.7. Significance of the study
It is hope that the study will:
- Help all the teachers in selecting the best method in teaching the ESL classroom
- Determine the appropriateness of using songs in the ESL classroom.
- Enable the teacher to realize the perceptions of student regarding the use og songs in classroom.
- Help the students to gain their interest in learning the target language by giving them the opportunity to be entertain while learning ESL.
1.8. Limitation of the study
This study was undertaken with the following limitations;
- The small sample clearly does not represent the whole population of students in SMK Dato' Hj Kamaruddin. The sample taken is 40 students from two classes in Kuala Kubu Bharu.
- The reliability and validity of the survey instruments may be questioned. The questionnaire is not based on any existing survey instrument, which had been tested and/ or certified in terms of reliability and validity. The questionnaire is developed specifically for this study.
- The time constrain will limit the quality of the study. SMK Dato' Hj Kamaruddin is situated in Ulu Selangor district and about 25KM from UPSI. It will take a long time in doing this study.
- The student's level of proficiency is at the intermediate level and they might need help in understanding the questionnaires.
Understanding of English is crucial for every student in the ESL classroom. Without a proper guide from the teacher, they will lose their interest in learning. Teacher need to be ready with a proper methods and teaching skills and should not ignore the use songs in the classroom. With the lack of vocabulary and understanding towards certain aspects in the learning process, surely the use of songs in the classroom should be considered to guide the students. However it doesn't mean that songs are the best method compare to others and not all students would prefer this learning strategy. By knowing the perception from both teacher and students, the point of view about the method will be unwrap.