>I would venture to say it is risky to use any songs that the students themselves don’t recommend. Just ask them who and what they like and they are eager to let you know. Remember, if you like it they probably don’t.
I believe teaching songs may be one of the most undervalued methods of TESL. Just think: the students usually love them (low affective barrier), they are catchy and easy to remember, they are real language (realia), it is likely that the students will hear them again and again and thus have ample opportunity to review the language, they are culturally informative, they add another media of presentation (music, not just listening to the teacher or looking at a book).
Other teachers had a big discussion (read: argument) about the value of teaching Shakespeare. The claim goes that the bard set a valuable milestone in the progress of English. But frankly, for young people especially, I think Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Dion and Houston would help students make greater progress in communicative skills.
Some care needs to be exercised to select songs with the highest potential of useful language. Many rap songs are hindered with a total absence of grammar and high density of slang or invented language.
>One teacher wrote:
“I often have the TV on in the background when I’m writing or marking papers or working on my website. I’m not really paying attention to it (the TV), but more and more words seem to seep through. I believe it is helpful. Students to whom I have mentioned it, though, seem skeptical. (Of course they are! It doesn’t fit within that very small box called Chinese English teaching pedagogy!)”
Is this what Chinese middle-school students do to us as well? Often, we talk about our problems keeping students’ attention. I have employed various strategies to deal with this, treating it as a problem.
I noticed that often the students who seemed to not be paying attention often still had the correct answers. I’m coming to believe, in our high tech society, that students are capable of multitasking. They require lots of input and if there is not a high enough load of input from the teacher then the student will achieve his mental bandwidth capabilities by finding other sources of input.
> In a discussion with many teachers, one of which was me, Betty Azar said:
“What we DO mean when we say that ‘grammar teaching works’ is that students develop their interlanguages faster and with better results when a grammar component is included in a balanced program of second language instruction. This is clear not only to experienced teachers, but is clear in the cumulative research into grammar teaching during the past 20 years.”
My knowledge of the research on this subject is not complete. From what I understand, much of it actually shows that “grammar teaching” will result in gains in “grammar testing” and only modest gains at that. This doesn’t reflect acquisition. Could you share some references to any research where acquisition has been demonstrated through direct grammar teaching?
Consider this question:
How is it possible that students cannot acquire grammar solely through grammar teaching but students can acquire grammar solely through extensive reading and exposure to the language?
This seems to indicate that grammar teaching can only play the most minor role, if any, in language acquisition. Stephen Krashen recommends grammar teaching to only deal with anything the student has learned incorrectly, what I would call a sort of post-acquisition experience fine-tuning.