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Nowadays Spain is living a deep economic crisis. In order to overcome this situation we can increase exportations or create new appealing enterprises for foreign countries. Consequently, speaking other languages has become a prior need. (Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa, 2012).
The European Commission (2006) carried out a study in which they tested pupils' level of English and French at the end of their Secondary Education. In such analysis, Spain did not get good results since it was in the twelfth place out of sixteen countries. In order to overcome this difficulty, Spain needs to learn languages, mainly English, which has become a lingua franca in economy, tourism and the industry (Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa, 2012). So if we want to change the current situation, we must start teaching English since the beginnings of formal education.
Music is also crucial for human beings; it is always present in learners' daily life. Music includes a wide scope of fields: "sociocultural, musical, psychological and spirituals dimensions" (McCarthy, 2009, p. 30). By means of music, learners can feel real-life experiences, and so teachers would bring life to their classroom thanks to songs, nursery rhymes, chants and anthems.
May Day Group (2009, p. xxxiii) is a group of thinkers who agrees on the fact that "the social and cultural contexts of musical actions are integral to musical meaning and cannot be ignored or minimized in music education". Therefore, culture and teaching a second language are closely related. In order to learn a second language we have to learn not only vocabulary and grammar but also L2 sociocultural context to make a correct use of that language. We can make our students learn English culture through the use of traditional songs, pop songs, nursery rhymes and anthems, and all that entails the use of authentic songs for pedagogical purposes.
In this paper we are going to have a look at the state of the art in the use of music in the language classroom. Authors claim that music is crucial in the physiological development of human beings. An example of this is how an unborn child can recognize melodies and his/her mother's voice from the outside of the womb, something vital for the development of cerebral functions. In addition, we will see that linguistic and musical systems have a close relationship because they facilitate language acquisition in children.
Our thesis is centred on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences coined by Howard Gardner, an American psychologist, in 1983. This theory explains why children are very good at one subject but not so good at others. Gardner stated that our intelligence is divided into seven "frames of mind": linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, musical, bodily/kinaesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Years later, he added the naturalistic, the existential and the spiritual intelligence (1999).
These different intelligences are closely related to different learning styles. For instance, some children prefer learning by writing, others by using visual support, others by moving themselves, etc. (Pinter, 2006). If we are concerned about using all the intelligences in our classroom, we can be sure that our students will end up learning and music helps us to achieve this objective.
We consider that the most outstanding intelligences for learning a second language through music are: musical and linguistic intelligences, visual and kinaesthetic intelligences and interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. We are going to choose songs and to develop activities to cover these intelligences.
Objectives of this Study
a) To enhance autonomous learning by giving students strategies and resources so that they can continue learning out of the classroom.
Learning languages is a task that takes much time even out of school. It is essential that children become autonomous learners so that they know how to learn outside school. Teachers should show "strategies related to raising awareness about what language learning is", the reasons to learn it, etc., "metacognitive strategies" to be able to plan, check and evaluate their learning and "direct or cognitive strategies" so that learners are efficient when learning vocabulary and structures of a language (Pinter, 2006, p.100).
Autonomous learning is closely related to the development of intrapersonal intelligence. Through the use of songs, children will discover if they learn better by singing and they will be able to identify helpful strategies faster, what produces a more fruitful learning.
b) To create a pleasant and motivating classroom atmosphere where children feel safe and happy to communicate and learn.
Krashen (1985) developed five hypotheses in relation to learning motivation: the Acquisition-Learning hypothesis, the Monitor hypothesis, the Natural Order hypothesis, the Input hypothesis, and the Affective Filter hypothesis. The affective filter hypothesis plays a decisive role in language teaching. This filter is a brain system which controls the quantity of input that becomes actual intake. If the filter gets activated, learners turn stressed, lowering their self-confidence and being afraid of making mistakes. On the contrary, if the filter is low or null, students will feel very motivated, relaxed and enthusiastic for learning.
Using music in class helps us to create a pleasant environment. Songs, rhymes, chants and anthems are relaxing, motivating and fun. We will use songs according to learners' interests and will create activities where children will work in harmony with their classmates. If children feel happy in the classroom, they will adopt a positive attitude towards the learning of English.
c) To improve attention and students' concentration and to develop their working memory.
Conneticut's Education Department (2007) whose current commissioner is Pryor, carried out a study which proved that learning foreign languages improves comprehension, spatial intelligence, memory, ability to search solutions and the knowledge about the own language. According to Paquette and Rieg (2008), music enhances attention and long-term memory. Furthermore, it improves theoretical thinking, helping to develop learners' creativity.
With the support of pictures, children will develop their attention and concentration because a visual support is helpful to catch students' attention. Visuals and music is a great combination to develop learners' memory.
d) To use English for meaningful purposes.
The intelligence which will help us focus on meaning rather than form is the kinaesthetic one. This intelligence is related to the Total Physical Response's theory developed by the psychologist Asher in 1977. Children focus their attention on listening comprehension if they move according to the song lyrics. This is good to develop memory and to acquire language.
As mentioned above, Krashen (1985) makes a distinction between learning and acquiring the language. It is believed that we acquire our mother through a subconscious process which comes from engaging in natural communication where individuals focus on meaning. On the contrary, learning a second language is a conscious process where learners focus on form. According to this theory, learners should pay attention to meaning in order to fully acquire it.
e) To create musical activities so that our learners improve the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), English vocabulary, structures and pronunciation.
Children can establish connections among grammatical rules and by listening to the repetition of words and structures (Paquette & Rieg, 2008). Hill-Clarke and Robinson (2003) assumed that music is good to increase vocabulary and comprehension skills, making lexical repetition more dynamic.
Linguistic intelligence and music one are similarly developed. Songs are music and speech, so both hemispheres (left and right sides of brain) work together (Storr, 1992, p. 35). We will work on pitch, melody, rhythm, timbre and language features, so we will develop both intelligences simultaneously.
f) To propose creative teaching alternatives so that our learners get to know how and when to use language appropriately.
Sociolinguistics is the science that studies the relationship that exists between language and society. We have to know how to use language in different cultural contexts. This has to do with pragmatics. Pragmatics is "the study of language use in general, (â€¦) study of communication, (â€¦) an approach to the study of language via language's communicative function" (Allott, 2010, p.1). Children will see that the vocabulary and expressions from an anthem or a pop song or a traditional nursery rhyme change according to the different situations.
e) To provide exercises in which children learn to show interest and respect towards Anglo - Saxon culture.
To have interpersonal intelligence is to become aware that there exist people with similar or different feelings to us, with different costumes and traditions, with different lifestylesâ€¦ Songs, chants, rhymes and anthems can show children English speaking countries' features. Singing together and working in groups will help learners to develop the interpersonal competence because pupils will have to communicate to agree at some point.
Literature Review: State of the Art in the Use of Music in the Language Classroom
As Storr (1992, p.1) already pointed out, language and music have been present since our ancestors painted people dancing in their caverns. In fact, linguistic and musical issues are key disciplines in all cultures. Supporting this connection, Pinker (2002, p. 404) established that there is a strong link between humanity and music when researchers found bone-made flutes in caves in France and Germany (Silva, 2006, p. 25).
Music is also crucial in the physiological development of human beings. Jusczyk (1986) and Lecanuet et al. (1987), cited in Murphey (1990, p. 98), claimed that the fetus is able to recognise melodies and their mother's intonation while they are in the womb, something vital for the development of cerebral functions. In addition, Campbell carried out a piece of research in 2001 that evidences the role of music in fetus formation. Apparently, there are anatomic differences among people who have studied music before they are seven years old and those who have not studied it. Music increases neuronal interconnections, and as a result, it enhances language development: language production, text comprehension and vocabulary/lexicon; better neuronal connections also improve motor skills. Furthermore, and from our interpersonal perspective, music favours social relationships (Silva, 2006).
Darwin (1871) suggested that human communicative abilities could have been originated due to the combination of music and modern language. Following Darwin, Galilei, Rousseau and Wittgenstein also found a relationship between these two disciplines. However, further analyses have proven that there exist outstanding differences between language and music which should also be mentioned in this paper. Marin and Perry (1999) and Peretz (2006), on their part, considered that music and language have little connection. The reason is that speech does not have pitch and rhythm as music does, and language grammar is not present in music, neither is semantic meaning. Besides, music can hold more emotion than language (Patel, 2008).
In the present paper, we will try to demonstrate the close connections existing between linguistic and musical systems, which will facilitate language acquisition in children. Following Patel: "as cognitive and neural systems, music and language are closely related" (2008, p. 417). In the same way, several studies such as those concerning Fassbender (1996) and Pouthas (1996) consider that children are born musical, that is, infants show special abilities in the development of musical skills. According to Trehub (2000, 2003) and Trehub and Hannon (2006), children recognise pitch patterns and rhythm very easily, and they prefer "infant-directed singing over infant-directed speech" (Patel, 2008, p. 377). Therefore, if we use infant songs in class, singing can make language learning much easier.
Several scholars have shown that children discern emotional states displayed in music and they improve this ability during their school years. During the 1990s, Cunningham and Sterling (1998) and Dolgin and Adelson (1990) undertook a study where four year old children had to listen to a song and had to describe it as happy, sad, angry or frightening. As a sign of children's capacity to identify melodies, their responses were the same as those given by adults in the same exercise.
Other studies have demonstrated that major modes of music make subjects feel happy and minor ones make listeners sad (Dowling, 1999). The modes of music are "different spatial patterns of excitation with different frequencies of oscillation" (Pierce, 1999, p.10). Gerardi and Gerken (1995) carried out another experiment with children and music modes. This time subjects had to use happy or sad faces depending on their musical perceptions. The modes of melody were major and minor and up and down melody, what means that they followed ascending and descending scales. These authors discovered that children by the age of eight were able to identify happy and sad songs with the same criterion as adults.
With the previous findings, teachers are encouraged to use music in class by choosing songs, rhymes, chantsâ€¦ to promote children's happiness and well being. If children are happy, they will feel more motivated to learn. This idea is related to Krashen's hypothesis: "for optimal learning to occur the affective filter must be weak. A weak filter means that a positive attitude toward learning is present. Because of the casual learning environment used when singing, songs are one method for achieving a weak affective filter and promoting language learning" (1982, p. 228, cited in Paquette & Rieg, 2008,). So as we can see, music helps to create a positive and pleasant atmosphere in the classroom which makes a favourable learning context.
In relation to curricular aspects, music is a mainstream in language and literacy development. Using songs, chants and rhymes, children can establish connections between grammatical rules and patterns of rhymes and the listening to repetition of words and phrases.
Taking into account Hill-Clarke and Robinson's ideas (2003), music is good to increase vocabulary and comprehension skills. In the same way, music accentuates "oral language skill development, improves attention and memory, and enhances abstract thinking. Additionally, music can enhance students' creativity and cultural awareness" (Paquette & Rieg, 2008, p. 228).
To conclude, using music for the teaching of a second language is not only a valuable idea, but it is also necessary because it creates a calmed and motivating environment; it develops receptive and productive skills, it encourages language acquisition and it finally develops memory. In the following paper sections, we will provide both theoretical and practical background supporting the use of music in the L2 classroom.
In this section, we are focusing on the theoretical aspects underlying the use of music for didactic purposes. In this case, Howard Gardner offers the necessary scaffolding to build a complete curricular proposal, having music and chants as the basis for children L2 learning.
First of all, it is worth mentioning the fact that neurology researchers have found that linguistic intelligence and music intelligence are located in different brain hemispheres. Language, speech, reading, writing and control of the right hand are on the left hemisphere while the perception and recognition of sounds, memorisation of melodies and left-hand control are on the right hemisphere (Silva, 2006).
In relation to this brain areas distribution, Krashen argued that the right hemisphere is also involved in the initial stages of foreign language learning (1981, p. 78-9). Therefore, there is an interconnection between the two hemispheres in terms of linguistic ability. The use of music in the learning of a second language is very important because music and language acquisition both develop in the right side of the brain. Don Campbell (1998, p. 203) went a step beyond; he pinpointed that music activates both hemispheres: creativity activates the right hemisphere and musical logic does so in the left one. Thus, students develop their brain better thanks to music, becoming more capable to give solutions to the problems they face in life and in providing innovative ideas.
However, brain lateralisation does not always work in the same way. There are patients who have suffered damage on one hemisphere of their brain and the other hemisphere has carried out the functions belonging to the impaired one. So human brains are in continuous development as the child grows up, as human intelligence is. Apart from being something flexible, brain lateralisation is also complementary. Murphey (1990) found out that students with a low level capacity remember words thanks to their sounds. Following Storr (1992), songs are music and speech, so both hemispheres work together while listening to them, although, the main control lies over the right hemisphere because it is the one related with emotions.
On the other hand, Jackendoff (1992) added the visual intelligence in connection to music and language. These three intelligences (visual, musical and linguistic ones) interact among them for a correct perception of the environment. Jackendoff's idea is related to multimodal learning in which our mind processes information through visual/spatial, musical and bodily/kinaesthetic intelligence. Romberg (2011) found out that infants who were eight to twelve months old learn language not only by hearing but also by watching their mother's face; this fact is an evidence of multimodal learning. Multimodal learning describes the learning process as something eclectic and, for this reason, songs are particularly suitable for the teaching practice since they add oral/aural input to scene. Our students will listen to songs, rhymes, chants and anthems; they will watch some videos and they will move at the same time they listen to them (Silva, 2006, p. 19-20). The teaching practice should encompass all multiple intelligences to develop every single one, to make learning more significant and to depart from each person's needs.
For the sake of this paper, we are considering the following musical elements:
Song: "a metrical composition or other set of words adapted for singing or intended to be sung" (Brown, 1993, p. 2947).
Nursery rhyme: "a simple traditional song or story in rhyme for children" (Brown, 1993, p. 1957).
Chant: "a short musical passage in two or more phrases each with a reciting note to which any number of syllables may be sung, for singing unmetrical words, a psalm, canticle, etc., so sung" (Brown, 1993, p. 372).
Anthem: "a song (sometimes strictly a hymn) adopted by a nation to express patriotism or loyalty" (Brown, 1993, p. 86).
From a teaching standpoint, we have to take into account that our classes are heterogeneous, that is, there are different learning styles depending on the students. Diversity is a reality that we can observe in any context and its attention is one of the main aims in the current educative system. Each student presents different educative needs due to multiple personal and social factors which should be satisfied. We must understand that each individual is unique and therefore recognise their idiosyncratic differences. Consequently, teachers have to adapt to the personal or social characteristics of each student and adopt a methodology which fulfills studentsÂ´ diversity. For that reason, we consider it to be a good idea to use the Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner to support our teaching aims.
Howard Gardner, professor at Harvard University, developed the so-called Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983. According to this author, women and men have lots of innate capacities, named intelligences that will be developed concerning the personal and educational features of each individual. Every human has seven different intelligences: linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, musical, bodily/kinaesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal; professor Gardner (1999) added the naturalistic, the existential and the spiritual ones some years later. These are not independent, but they relate to each other.
Gardner (2011) asserted that the musical intelligence is the first one to manifest in children. Lozanov and Gateva (1988) underlined that learners who listened to baroque or classical music got better marks at school. Benenzon (1995) considered that people adapt their breathing to musical rhythm and are influenced by it because music can change their state of mind. "Many young children appear to be naturally inclined to hum or to sing a tune so it is beneficial to build upon their musical interests and enhance their literacy development simultaneously" (Paquette & Rieg, 2008, p. 228).
According to Gardner, we can develop music and linguistic intelligences through the use of songs in the process of teaching - learning of a foreign language. Arnold and Fonseca (2004) state that we can use all intelligences to motivate our learners and to make a meaningful learning. As these authors claim, the Theory of Multiple Intelligences "enables teachers to organize a variety of contexts that offer learners a variety of ways to engage meaning and strengthen memory pathways; it is a teacher-friendly tool for lesson planning that can increase the attractiveness of language learning tasks and therefore create favourable motivational conditions. " (Arnold & Fonseca, 2004, p. 120).
For the purpose of our essay, we are going to focus on the most relevant intelligences for learning a second language through music: musical and linguistic intelligences, visual and kinaesthetic intelligences and interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences.
Musical and Linguistic Intelligences
According to Gardner (2011, p. 83) "the roots of spoken language can be found in the child's babbling during the opening months of life." During those first months, children emit unrecognizable sounds and by the age of two they start uttering single words and short meaningful phrases. In their third year of life, children pronounce more complex sentences such as questions. Finally, children who are four or five years old can speak as adults do. This developing linguistic ability is the so-called the linguistic competence.
The components of musical intelligence are mainly pitch, melody, rhythm and timbre. In the twentieth century, European families have been very interested in their children developing musical competence during early childhood. "During infancy, normal children sing as well as babble: they can emit individual sounds, produce undulating patterns, and even imitate prosodic patterns and tones sung by others with better than random accuracy". Two month old year babies can harmonize the volume, the pitch and the melody with their mothers' songs. Moreover, four month old babies are able to match rhythmic structures as well. Consequently, we can see that children are naturally stimulated to music (Gardner, 2011, p. 115).
Music, language and children are the main characters of Lozanov's method; this author developed an innovative teaching methodology related to music called Suggestopaedia. Regarding this theory, Murphey (1992, p. 37, cited in Rosová, 2007, p. 13) stated: suggestopaedia "claims to produce hypermnesia - an excellent memory (â€¦). The idea behind using the music is apparently to relax students' defences and to open up their minds to the language."
With the use of songs children will develop their linguistic intelligence because they will work with language and all language skills. They will develop both comprehension skills: listening to (the songs) and reading (the lyrics), and production skills: speaking (singing) and writing (creating lyrics). Therefore, music and language practice are in this way mutually related.
Visual/Spatial and Kinaesthetic Intelligences
As far as physical intelligence is concerned, Gardner (2011, p. 218) defined bodily/kinaesthetic intelligence as:
" (â€¦) the ability to use one's body in highly differentiated and skilled ways, for expressive as well as goal-directed purposes (â€¦). Characteristic as well is the capacity to work skillfully with objects, both those that involve the fine motor movements and one's fingers and hands and those that exploit gross motor movements of the body".
To develop this intelligence we can use the method of Total Physical Response (TPR) developed by psychologist Asher (1977). This technique assumes that children can learn a second language through movement. Thus children can focus their attention in listening comprehension and body movement, and only when they feel ready they can start to speak.
This technique facilitates the memorization of language and minimises learner stress. Thanks to this, the teacher can check the level of comprehension of their students without the need of pronouncing any word. It is a really enjoyable method as students keep interested along the teaching - learning process. So, with the use of songs, our students can dance whatever they like to express their emotions or make gestures following the song directions.
Concerning Rauscher, Shaw and Ky (1997), listening to music also develops spatial intelligence. Children begin to understand the concept of space during infancy. Children manage two abilities, on the one hand they appreciate the trajectory of objects, and on the other hand they can find an object or a person between several areas. The spatial intelligence is developed thanks to the interaction with the world (Gardner, 2011, p. 188).
Following Arnold and Fonseca (2004, p. 126) "Our visual-spatial intelligence is the ability we have to perceive all the elements (form, shape, line, space, colour) necessary to create a mental image of something". Researchers on second language learning have found that symbolism is really important in language comprehension. When we learn a word or read a text our mind works in terms of pictures (Arnold & Fonseca, 2004). Paivio (1986) claimed that we possess a verbal language (speaking and writing) and a non-verbal language (pictures). For that reason, we are going to activate the visual/spatial intelligence in the classroom through the use of music. When our learners sing, they will represent the song, rhyme, chant or anthem with pictures. Students will learn vocabulary with the help of posters, drawings, charts, videos, slidesâ€¦
Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Intelligences
Interpersonal intelligence has to do with sociolinguistics. Sociolinguistics is the science that studies the relationship that exists between language and society. Campbell pinpointed (2001, p. 15) that Platon had already claimed that music has a high influence in society. Following Hernández Campoy (1996, p. 871), music is a system of linguistic signs which transmit messages. Cook (2001) maintained that human beings use music to express feelings, emotions, wordsâ€¦Music is a social activity.
Gardner (2011, p. 253) claimed that the interpersonal intelligence consists of "the ability to notice and make distinctions among other individuals and, in particular, among their moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions". The interpersonal intelligence is associated with learning a second language because we learn it to communicate with other people, to try to understand their beliefs and ideas and to live together in a good atmosphere (Arnold & Fonseca, 2004, p. 128).
Therefore, through anthems, songs, chants and rhymes children can pay attention to the lyrics and learn about other cultures. In addition, music creates a relaxing and good atmosphere so that children feel comfortable and they like learning with their classmates. Music joins people and helps make group dynamics easier.
Children success and participation in their social environment are very important in relation to learning. Learners enjoy by playing together, watching and talking to each other and they are worried about their classmates, being able to understand how they feel about themselves.
On the other hand, Gardner described the intrapersonal intelligence as:
"The core capacity at work here is acces to one's own feeling life - one's range of affects or emotions: the capacity instantly to effect discriminations among these feelings, and eventually, to label them, to enmesh them in symbolic codes, to draw upon them as a means of understanding and guiding one's behaviour" (2011, p. 253).
People can identify their own feelings, analyse them and change them thanks to music. Major modes of music usually make learners happy and motivated to learn thanks to the rhythmic way. At the same way, they can relax if they are stressed or concentrate while they are working as music improves concentration.
"The intrapersonal intelligence gives us the capacity to understand the internal aspects of the self and to practise self-discipline" (Arnold & Fonseca, 2004, p. 129). That is related to one of the competences that our students must develop, the competence of "learning to learn" (Royal Decree 1513/2006, p.10) (Appendix 1) When children develop this competence, they have the strategies and skills to continue learning by themselves out of school. For instance, they could be able to create their own songs or look for them on the internet at home. In order to develop the learning to learn competence, the student has to know that she or he has intellectual, physical and emotional capacities which can be developed, and on the other hand they should feel motivated, self-confident and predisposed to learn.
Learning to learn means to be aware of learning, to know how students can learn more and better by themselves. For this reason, students should know strategies and techniques for learning such us observation, study, planning and organization of tasks. As well as these capacities, they can take advantage of others such as memory, attention, linguistic comprehension and production.
Thereby, the use of songs in the classroom is very useful to develop this learning to learn competence because listening to music develops all capacities mentioned above. Using music in the classroom for learning a second language is very productive. Music helps learners develop concentration and memorization, boosts creativity and provides a great and pleasurable classroom environment.
Research Methodology and Design
In order to achieve our research objectives, we are using a qualitative methodology. As Sergi and Hallin (2011, p. 193) claims: "qualitative research is about the methods used to generate what could be better described as interpretations and meanings (â€¦) it is the result of a processual performance (â€¦)". Research is a sequential process which is done step by step, but on the other hand it is experience and feelings (Sergi & Hallin, 2011, p. 192).
The term qualitative research appeared in the late 1960s, although Sociology and Anthropology studies had been following this approach since the late 1890s. Margaret Mead and Willard Waller were the first ones who used qualitative methodology in USA classrooms. These teachers used observation as an instrument of study to analyse what happened in class scientifically, thus they improved their academic teaching process. However, it was not until the 1970s-1980s that qualitative approaches were widely developed (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007).
We can find two methods of research, namely the exploratory method which "researchers start with empirical data and develop larger generalizations and theoretical insights from data" and the confirmatory method which "try to confirm a theory" that already exists (Kalof, Dan, & Dietz, 2008, p. 17)
According to Barrios and García (2006), observation and analysis in class helps teachers in decision-taking to widen their insights and strategies in the process of teaching a foreign language. Teachers who consider observation as an instrument of research are necessary to analyse what happens in class in order to meditate and change whatever is necessary in the curriculum.
Teachers' reflection and observation are fundamental for teaching practice improvement. For these reasons, we believe that practitioners' reflection and teaching improvement come together with qualitative research.
Fieldwork and Data Analysis
As the orientation of my master thesis is professional, this essay is meant to present a curricular proposal or practical activities for Teaching English as a Second Language, more specifically, to teach English to children.
The hypothesis we want to evidence is "teaching English through music is more enjoyable and it results in better language acquisition." We are going to use the confirmatory method using songs, rhymes, chants and anthems observing the activities in the group to confirm the theory "using music to teach English as a second language".
For the selection of songs we are going to take into account the students' age, their interests and needs, the difficulty level of the lyrics and the purpose of the activity. We will use authentic songs, adapted songs, action songs, chants, nursery rhymes and anthems among others. Regarding the teaching materials, we will use CD players, Internet and flashcards.
Our subjects of research are students of the second cycle of Primary Education (3rd -4th courses). According to Piaget (1923), eight-nine year old students are at the so-called concrete operational stage. At this stage, students start to use logical thinking and reasoning. In addition, children use the second language to communicate and they are more receptive of language acquisition because after twelve years old they are in a critical period (Lenneberg, 1967) where learning becomes more difficult because of a loss in brain plasticity.
When presenting the proposal of musical activities, we will follow a logical order in the classroom and in this research paper:
- Warming-up activities or initial activities: We will know students' previous knowledge and present the vocabulary and structures we want to work with them.
- Development activities or skill oriented activities: we will focus first on those activities which demand receptive skills such as listening and reading, and following a logical sequence we will move on to activities designed to develop productive skills, that is, speaking and writing.
- Follow-up activities: we revise and consolidate the main language issues that have been presented, practiced and produced during the class
Warming up Activities
a. Old MacDonald and his animal farm
We have chosen the traditional song Old MacDonald (n.d.) (Appendix 2). In this song, each line introduces an animal from Old MacDonald's farm with its corresponding animal sound. First of all, students will listen to the song meanwhile we show animal flashcards.
To develop the musical intelligence, I will give out the score (n.d, Kididdles) (Appendix 3) and first, one half of the class will sing it and then the other half will. Here, we will focus on the intonation patterns and song rhythm. Afterwards, we will say an animal name and our learners will have to do the sound of the animal we said to check if they know the names.
Children enjoy pop songs because they are used to listen to them on the radio, at the shops, etc. A song which we like is entitled Firework by Katy Perri (2010) (Appendix 4). This song has plenty of words that rhyme, so it is very helpful so that our students practice pronunciation in a relaxed way. In addition, this song transmits energy and the message of the lyrics is very positive. First of all, our students can see the video and listen to the song. Then, they will read the lyrics at the same time that they sing out the song. Our focus here is not for them to understand the song because it requires a high level of competence, what we want is that they work the song on a phonetic level. Once our students have sung the song, we will give out the lyrics and they will have to identify the rhymes such as "bag - cards"; "wind - thin - caving in"; "deep - screams - thin"; "July - shine"; "firework - worth - burst"; "space - replace"; "holds - rainbow"; among others.
In this way, our students will develop musical and linguistic competence as they will focus their attention on pronunciation. In addition, visual competence and the interpersonal one will also be enhanced as they will feel very happy and relaxed because it is an easy activity.
c. The name rap
The name rap (Read, 2007, p. 187-188) is a special type of chant which children can easily create. This is very useful for the first day of class so that children know a little about their partners. First of all, we will indicate the rhythm of the chant with finger snaps and we will introduce ourselves. For instance, children would say: Hello, my name is Robert, I like cats. Children must remember the name and the sentence from the classmate next to them so that in the next round, instead of presenting themselves, they introduce their classmate. Children will always repeat sentences with the rhythm of the chant.
Our students will improve their musical and linguistic intelligence because they will remember structures at the same time as they sing. Furthermore, they will develop the interpersonal intelligence knowing their partners' motivations and names.
d. Head, shoulders, knees and toes
The traditional song Head, shoulders, knees and toes (2008) (Appendix 5) is a very good way to introduce vocabulary or to remember it. We will start by watching the video and children will sing and touch the corresponding parts of their body. Then, we will sing and interpret the song but without watching the video. Then, we will progressively add new verses with new vocabulary but with the same intonation and rhythm. At the end, we will sing the song altogether, trying to remember lyrics and body parts.
This song is a really good activity to develop the visual and kineasthetic intelligence. Children will activate themselves and feel very motivated to start the class.
Solomon Grundy Poem
Solomon Grundy Poem (2010) (Appendix 6) is a good song to introduce the vocabulary related to days of the week and the past participle. First of all, we would see the video and listen to the song. Secondly, we choose seven children who will be assigned one day of the week each. So, while everybody is singing the song, the child who is assigned Monday will play what Solomon did that day.
At the end, we will hand out the lyrics of the song and explain past participle uses. We will develop linguistic, musical, kinaesthetic, visual, interpersonal and intrapersonal competences in this task. Moreover, linguistic contents are introduced inductively, (that is, theory derives from practice), what makes students active participants of their learning process.
Development Activities or Skill Oriented activities
a. If you're happy and you know it
The song that we have chosen to develop the visual and kinaesthetic intelligence is If you're happy and you know it (McQuinn, 2009) (Appendix 7.). It is a song in which children have to interpret the actions while they sing it. A song in which students have to move is a very good way to start the class, because if you activate your body, you activate your brain. The actions are: clap your hands, stamp your feet, turn around, wiggle your hips, stretch your arms, pat your head, touch your nose, point your toesâ€¦These various body movements are connected to cultural issues as well, since each of them is related to greetings in different parts of the world.
We will listen to and see the video of the song twice and then we will make gestures such as: bend to the left, bend to the right, jump high, draw in the air, skip onceâ€¦ After that, they will be grouped in fours or fives. They will be given the lyrics of the song we have created and they will have to order them as they like. Then, each group will sing the song to the class and their classmates will represent the song movements as they listen to it.
Once the song is finished, students can learn how to say hello in other languages: konnichiwa, bonjour, priviet, ni hâo, kalimera, jambo, hao, guten tagâ€¦Furthermore as a complementary activity, they can search on the internet the places corresponding to the song greetings, and even look up new ways to say hello/goodbye.
Thanks to this exercise, our students will not only develop visual and kinaesthetic intelligence but also interpersonal intelligence and the linguistic one. On the one hand, they will improve the interpersonal intelligence by choosing the lyrics of the song, they will have to discuss and agree on which lyrics are appropriate so they will work cooperatively. On the other hand, they will learn how to say hello and goodbye in other languages. Our learners will also understand that we use the imperative mode for orders.
Other intelligence we develop with this song is the intrapersonal one. As we have mentioned above, songs with major tones make people feel happier. So, we have to make learners aware of the fact that they have the capacity to change their mood thanks to music.
b. There was an old lady song
The nursery rhyme There was an old lady who swallowed a fly (Mills & Bonne, 1953) (Appendix 8) is good to tell a story, to learn animal vocabulary and to introduce past simple tense to children. We will see the video which will be showing the animals at the same time that the song is playing. Then, we will sing the song together and dramatize the animals: cow, goat, dog, cat, bird, spider, fly, horse, making the corresponding movements and sounds.
To develop the intrapersonal competence, which is related to the learning to learn competence, we will hand out the song lyrics and explain that a very good way to remember vocabulary is matching it with the picture. So, they will draw an animal next to the animal word. Then, to develop the linguistic competence we will explain that we usually use the expression "There wasâ€¦" to tell a story. We will put them in groups of three and they will have to create a guided story. For instance, if the song says:
"There was an old lady who swallowed a bird
How absurd to swallow a bird.
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly;
But I don't know why she swallowed a fly - Perhaps she'll die!"
They would substitute the words "lady", "swallowed", "bird", "spider", "fly" by another type of lexicon, for example, means of transport. So, the new song would be:
There was an old man who drove a plane,
How absurd to drive a plane.
He drove the plane to catch the lorry,
He drove the lorry to catch the car;
But I don't know why he drove a car - Perhaps he'll die!
Then, each group will sing the song with the same intonation as the original one. With this activity, students will develop musical as well as linguistic intelligence because they will review vocabulary looking for words from the same semantic field.
c. The elephant's song
Our children can develop several intelligences with this song The elephant's song (Herman, 2006) (Appendix 9). First of all, children will listen to the song while they see the video (visual intelligence being worked on here). Children have to pay attention to the drawings because Herman describes the abilities of the animals but in a wrong way. For example, he states: Elephants. I like elephants. I like how they swing through trees. Then, a child says: No, elephants don't swing through trees. Monkeys do! Then the song goes on: Monkeys. I like monkeys. I like how they swim in the ocean. So children have to identify the animal that actually swims in the ocean.
We will sing again miming the actions of the song, thus our learners will develop the kinaesthetic intelligence. If we have a look at the lyrics, we will learn vocabulary on animal abilities and features: e.g. swing through trees; swim in the ocean; scratch at fleas and sniff at trees and bark at the mailman; curled up on the windowsill purring, and chasing miceâ€¦
Once they have seen the vocabulary, we will ask questions such as: Which animal eat rats?; Which animal runs through a maze for some cheese? They will answer with mimicry and the sound of the animal. Thus, our children will develop their linguistic intelligence. To develop interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences we will ask questions about which their favourite animal is and what it can do.
This activity consists of "organizing sounds to represent ideas and compose and perform a musical picture" (Paterson & Willis, 2008, p. 82). We will start telling a story at the same time as we draw the picture on the board:
The sun is hot. But there are dark clouds in the sky. The wind starts to blow. It gets stronger and stronger. Leaves fall off the trees. The sky gets darker. A few drops of rain - then more. The rain gets louder and heavier. It rains and it rains. A clap of thunder and then lightening. More thunder! More heavy rain. The wind stops. Then the rain starts to slow down - gentler, slower, slower, and slower. The rain clouds pass overheadâ€¦Out comes the sun again (Paterson & Willis, 2008, p. 82).
After having drawn the picture, we explain to children that we have to represent each action. For instance, we can blow miming the wind, we can tap our finger nails representing rain drops and stamp feet interpreting the thunder. Afterwards, in groups of five they can create a new picture on a poster and represent it.
At the end, we could talk about weather from other countries or other cities, starting discussion topics with students. This activity allows us to develop most intelligences. The linguistic and musical intelligences, the visual and kinaesthetic intelligences and the interpersonal one.
e. Adventure chant
Adventure chant is an activity aimed "to ask questions and respond in a chant using the past simple; to improve pronunciation skills; to memorize the past simple form; to create and write a similar adventure chant" (Read, 2007, p.199). This activity consists of showing children a picture of an invented character, for example, Jack. We would ask questions and children would answer according to the photographs chosen.
The chant would look like we can see in the Appendix 10. Children would create their own chant and sing it to their classmates. This activity develops visual intelligence because they have to pay attention to the pictures, linguistic intelligence because they learn a new tense in English and intrapersonal intelligence because the exercise improves their imagination.
a. God save the Queen
God save the Queen (2007) (Appendix 11.) is the British anthem. This song is mainly for our students to develop their interpersonal intelligence because they will have to put on each other feet. Students will learn the sociocultural background of the song and will review vocabulary. We will explain what they are going to listen and when and how English people sing that song. To develop linguistic intelligence, we will arrange learners in pairs, then we will hand out the lyrics of the song jumbled up and they will have to rearrange the verses in the correct order.
b. Who's got the chocolate?
Who's got the chocolate is a chanting game adapted from a West Indian game: Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar (Read, 2007, p. 195-196). It is a chant which children normally enjoy because there is a similar one in Spanish. This chant would be useful to consolidate language items such as possessive pronouns and determiners. The game would consist of children sitting on a circle. Then we would bring a chocolate box to class, we would ask the question: Who's got the chocolate from the chocolate box? And everybody would repeat with the teacher. The chant would be:
Everyone: Who's got the chocolate from the chocolate box?
The teacher: Alicia's got the chocolate from the chocolate box?
Student A: Who? Me?
Everyone: Yes! You!
Student A: Not me! Alberto's got the chocolate from the chocolate box.
Student B: Who? Me?
Everyone: Yes! You!
Student B: Not me! Natalia's got the chocolate from the chocolate box.
(And so on with the rest of the class. Children must not repeat any name that has been previously mentioned, and would finish when everyone has had a turn).
This chant is really joyful and it serves for children to become more fluent. In addition, we will perform the song slapping knees to make the rhythm. We will start very slowly but the speed will be increasing as the chant goes on. As we can see, we will develop linguistic and musical intelligence here.
c. Three Crows
The song Three Crows refers to the crows which live in the Tower of London. We can explain to children what a crow is and that it is believed that these crows bring good luck to the country. We can explain that nowadays the Tower of London stores the Crown Jewels and "has a museum of weapons and the Chamber of horrors" (Madrid & McLaren, 1995, p. 245-246).
Then we can hand out the song lyrics with jumbled words and our learners in pairs have to order them while they listen to the song. The first pair who rearranges the song wins and will sing it facing the rest of the class. Then, we will sing altogether paying special attention to pronunciation, rhythm and intonation patterns. Afterwards, children will circle the words they do not know and will learn the vocabulary. Then, they will create a picture dictionary with the new words.
Thanks to this song, children will practice musical and linguistic intelligence, the interpersonal one because they will learn about the culture of another country and the intrapersonal intelligence because they will develop strategies to learn vocabulary becoming, therefore, more autonomous.
d. She sells seashells
This song She sells seashells (Sullivan, 1908) is a tongue twister. This song can be a good way to finish the class. It consolidates vocabulary of the beach and helps to distinguish /s/ and /Êƒ/ phonemes.
First of all, we will see the song video. Then, we can make a circle with the whole class. We can sing altogether jumping and following the song rhythm. We can do it several times to focus on the music only. Later on, to pay attention to language, we can sing the song more quickly each time. Afterwards, we will deal out the lyrics and one by one children will read the lyrics as quickly and as accurately as possible. The one who pronounces better wins a seashell. As a follow up, we can ask children to look for more tongue twisters on the internet, make a song for them and sing them to the rest of the class.
This song is really good for children to gain fluency and accuracy. We will develop linguistic and musical intelligences, the visual and kinaesthetic ones and interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.
Linguistic intelligence is improved when children focus on the phonetics of the song, the musical one when they sing and focus on the rhythm; at the same time, visual intelligence is enhanced when learners sing and focus on the pictures of the video; finally, the kinesthetic intelligence is developed when they jump. They also improve the interpersonal intelligence because our students are relaxed and having a great time with their classmates and, more intrapersonally, they learn how to search information on the web, that is, they are learning to learn by their own means.
e. Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast (Ashman, 1991) is a popular Disney song. We have chosen this song because children are used to watch Disney films and this song is very famous. First of all, we would put the song in class and children would have to recognize which song it is. Then, we will give out the lyrics of the song but with some missing words they would have to guess such as: tale, old, time, friends, change, scared, Beauty, surprise, sun, same, sure, song, strange, rhyme, beastâ€¦ In addition, we will focus on the rhythm, pronunciation and intonation of the song singing first one half of the class and then the other half. We will work on the words that rhyme. Finally, they will learn the vocabulary of the lyrics and make sentences about their personal life using each word they do not know about.
Here, we encourage children to develop linguistic intelligence as we focus on vocabulary and pronunciation, musical intelligence as we sing and focus on the rhythm, interpersonal intelligence as we create a good environment in class, and the intrapersonal one since we explain that a good way to learn new vocabulary is making a phrase with real meaning.
Using songs, rhymes, chants and anthems in classroom promotes the acquisition of a second language. Children focus their attention on meaning rather than on form. Music fosters unconscious learning thanks to the repetition of structures and vocabulary while it promotes affective and meaningful memorization.
Moreover, teaching English through music improves receptive skills: listening and reading comprehension; and productive skills: speaking, because learners become more fluent singing songs, and writing, in the creation of songs. Furthermore, singing reinforces pronunciation.
Motivation is an outstanding factor; we can get this element using music in classroom. Singing is a joyful activity, not common in other school subject but it is out of school, so students can feel really happy to do it. Children get an active role in singing which also motivates them.
Songs create a pleasant atmosphere in class, they enhance relationships between classmates and it is a relaxed activity in which learners feel they can enjoy and are learning without pressure. This provokes a students' desire on knowing about the second language.
We learn a second language with the purpose of communication. So not only they have to learn language but also the culture, their costumes and traditions. So usage of authentic songs helps children to know a little about the Anglo-Saxon culture.
In addition, we have to consider how we are going to evaluate our students. We will evaluate our learners along the course year. We will take into account their efforts and their progresses, doing a formative evaluation.
We are living in an international society which needs to know more than one language to communicate. English is the language (after Mandarin Chinese) most widely spread in the world. For that reason, this language has turned into a lingua franca. Due to the globalization of our markets, we need to make learners able to speak English to communicate with foreign language countries.
Learning a second language also opens our minds, that is, we become interested in foreign people, their costumes and traditions, their styles of life, their gastronomy, etc. We discover that there exist different ways of living which we must respect. Songs, chants, rhymes and anthems can show students English speaking countries' features and feel more tolerant towards them.
Students' communicative competence in other languages provokes an improvement in their mother tongue because they can compare both languages looking for similitudes and differences being aware that each language has their own rules. In order to learn a language, it is better to start as early as possible because the plasticity of brain in children is very low when they reach twelve years old. When young learners come to this age they do not learn as easily and as quickly as before because they have reached the critical period.
If we do not practice a language, we can forget it. For that reason, we should provide our students strategies to continue learning them. That is, we have to teach our learners to become more autonomous. At the same time, it is a priority our pupils to develop positive attitudes towards the target language. They should know different ways to practice English such as listening to the radio, watching television, reading books, magazines and newspapers, searching information on the Internet, living in other countries, going to language exchanges (tandems), taking advantage of speaking with foreign people without being afraid of making mistakes, singing songs, among others.
Music is and has always been present in our life. Linguistics and music has always been integrated in our culture. Music is also crucial in the physiological development of human beings. Children show special abilities in the development of musical skills. They recognise pitch patterns and rhythm very easily. In order to provide a theoretical backup to this piece of research, we have taken into account the Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner in 1983.
We have used a qualitative methodology because we consider it is the best way to carry out our essay and the confirmatory method to evidence our hypothesis: teaching English through music is more enjoyable and it results in better language acquisition.
Several scholars have shown that children discern emotional states displayed in music and they improve this ability during their school years. Other studies have demonstrated that major modes of music make subjects feel happy and minor ones make listeners sad. We have chosen songs, rhymes, chantsâ€¦ to promote children's happiness and well-being, to create a positive and pleasant atmosphere in the classroom which makes a favourable learning context.
We have chosen six intelligences from those proposed by Gardner: linguistic and musical intelligence, visual/spatial and kinaesthetic intelligences and interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence, using music in classroom because are the more suitable ones for our research.
Children have developed their linguistic and musical intelligence with the use of songs because they have worked with language and with pitch and rhythm. They have also enhanced visual/spatial intelligence and kinaesthetic one in the classroom learning vocabulary through pictures and miming lyrics songs. Our learners have improved their interpersonal competence working in pairs and in groups and learning songs from English speaking countries. In addition, they have developed their intrapersonal competence as they have discovered that when they sing they experiment emotions which make them feel happy. So they have found out how to learn in a grateful way.
When presenting the activities, we have followed a logical order in the classroom: warming-up activities to activate students' previous knowledge, development activities to focus on the four skills and follow-up activities to consolidate language. For the selection of songs we have taken into account the students' age, their interests and needs, the difficulty of the lyrics and the purpose of the activity. We have used authentic songs, adapted songs, action songs, chants, nursery rhymes and anthems among others. In this way, we have covered all teaching phases in the classroom, as well as most learning styles and preferences.
Using music for the teaching of a second language is not only a great idea, but also necessary tool because it creates a calmed and motivating environment, it develops receptive and productive skills, and it develops memory productively.
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