Monthly Archives: February 2016

What’s up with using songs to teach English?

Photo 13-03-2016, 7 58 35 PMHow to use songs in the English language classroom?

Planning for the use of songs in class.

The process of selecting a song is one of the most difficult aspects of using music in a lesson. Here are some things you probably need to think about to ensure you get the right song.

Carefully examine what it is you want your class to learn in the lesson

Is this going to be a lesson focusing on vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, or a particular topic? I once used ‘You’re so vain’ by Carly Simon to introduce a text that looked at vain people. In another lesson, I used ‘In the air tonight’ as it uses the present perfect continuous tense. Whatever your focus, remember that this doesn’t necessarily place a limit on what you can do with the song. For instance, you might wish to use the song in question to exemplify a particular verb tense, and structure your lesson accordingly, but you might at the same time wish to take the opportunity to look at those interesting idioms in the lyrics!

Think about the language level of your class

The language level of your class will determine not only which songs you can use, but also what other activities, such as games or written exercises. You will use to develop the lesson. Lower levels will become extremely frustrated with fast-delivered lyrics, for instance, while simple repetitive lyrics might not be interesting for more advanced-level learners.

How old are your learners?

If you’re a teacher of young learners, you will probably want to use songs that are repetitive and very easy to understand. For teenagers, however, use contemporary or fairly recent pop and rock songs. My advice: it’s often best to ask them ‘what’s cool’. Alternatively, for adult learners, who will probably have a more open approach to classes, use songs that are interesting to their age group.

Are there any specific cultural issues regarding the make-up of your class?

What kinds of things are generally unacceptable in the culture in which you teach? Whatever you do, don’t use music solely based on your own cultural norms. Consider the audience and their sensibilities; even better, let them choose the songs that you use.


Six steps for making a song the focus of your class

1. Listen to the song

That’s it – start things off by just listening. It’s important to remember that this is supposed to be a fun activity; don’t make it too serious or boring.

As an alternative, you can show a video clip if you have one – in fact, I strongly recommend it, as it will cater to more learners’ needs in terms of learning styles (visual and audible).

Ask learners if they’ve heard it before, and don’t overload them with tasks at this point; simply let them enjoy the music.

2. Ask some questions about the title

Here are a couple of examples of the types of questions you can ask:

For John Lennon’s wonderful ‘Jealous Guy’:

‘What is a ‘jealous guy’?’
‘What are three things a jealous guy might do?’
‘What kinds of jealousy are there?’
For Queen’s classic ‘We are the champions’:

‘What is a champion?’
‘What kinds of champions are there in the world?’
‘What activities have champions?’
Such questions tend to work really well as conversation starters, so group three or four learners together and then get feedback from each group on their thoughts. If you think it would help, make this your first step, i.e., before the initial listening.

3. Listen to the song again, this time with lyrics

This time, you should give learners the chance to read the lyrics to the song. At this point you might do one or more of the following activities:

Learners can just read the lyrics while they listen. They can possibly highlight unknown words for later discussion.
You can make a lyric worksheet as a gap fill; learners fill in the gaps as they listen.
You can make cut-out strips of selected missing words and again make a lyric worksheet as a gap fill; this time learners match the word strips to the gaps as they listen.

4. Focus on a particular verb tense or aspect of grammar

Virtually every song centres on a particular verb tense. This is too good an opportunity to pass up in terms of uncovering the grammar. My suggestion is to start with questions such as these:

How many examples can you find of the past simple in the lyrics?
Why did the writer of this song choose this verb tense?
This acts as a springboard for discussing the function of a specific tense, as well as examining its form. Furthermore, it often tends to raise awareness of grammatical flexibility and ‘poetic licence’ in the construction of song lyrics. Students often expect songs to obey the grammatical rules that have been drummed into them. In a surprisingly large number of cases, this can lead to the enlightening discovery that rules can be broken!

5. Focus on vocabulary, idioms and expressions

We’ve noted that many songs bend the rules of grammar. It’s also useful to focus on the creative and artistic use of vocabulary we encounter in lyrics. Start with questions like these (again, for Queen’s classic song ‘We are the champions’):

What does ‘I’ve paid my dues’ mean?
What does ‘my share of’ mean?
What does ‘I’ve taken my bows’ mean?
Go through the meanings, illustrating with other examples if necessary. Songs often serve as really good contexts for phrases and idioms, but it’s good to make sure that the meaning is clear. As with grammar, years of misunderstanding can come to light in this way!

6. Round things off with some creativity

Creativity is an important part of maintaining motivation but it shouldn’t be limited to the teaching approach. Depending on the factors highlighted in the first part of this post (age, language level, cultural specifics, etc.), you might want to try finishing things off with an activity that stimulates creative thought. Here are a few examples of things you can do to get the creative juices flowing:

A song tends to give you the perspective of the singer. Write a response (this can be a paragraph, i.e., not necessarily in lyric form) from the point of view of the person the song is being sung about, or any other protagonist.

Songs for teaching English in the classroom.

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It’s great to use songs in the class, if only to do something a little different. But beyond using them solely to give your students some ‘light relief’, there are many other ways songs can be used in classrooms to consolidate what students have already learnt.

  • Songs for teaching grammar;
  1. Past Simple (Celine Dion – Because You Loved Me lyrics).
  2. Present Perfect (Michael Buble – Haven’t Met You Yet lyrics).
  3. Present Continuous (Lemon Tree – Fool’s Garden lyrics).
  4. “Will” future (Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You lyrics).
  5. “Will” future (James Blunt – You’re Beautiful lyrics).

What’s up with ADJECTIVES?

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1. What are adjectives?
Adjectives tell us something about a person or a thing.

2. What do adjectives modify?
Adjectives can modify nouns or pronouns/names.

 

3. Where do adjectives go?
An adjective can be put before the noun. Then it is an attribute.

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An adjective can be put after the verb to be (is). This is called predicative position.

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Adjectives can go after the following verbs:

  • appear
  • become
  • feel
  • get
  • go
  • keep
  • turn

When we speak about what something looks like, smells, sounds and tastes, we use the adjective.

  • I feel great.
  • She looks good.
  • It seems impossible.
  • The steak smells fantastic.

4. Can adjectives be used without nouns?
Yes, adjectives can be used without nouns. Mind the definite article the:

  • the rich = rich people

Here is an example from the fairy tale Cinderella:

“The good must be put in the dish, the bad you may eat if you wish.”

Here is another example with nationalities in the plural:

The Scottish live in the North of the United Kingdom.

5. Can two or more adjectives be used together?
Yes, if you use more adjectives you can put them in front of the noun:

  • a fat old cat

* or you can put them after the verb (e.g. to be). In this case and is placed between the last two adjectives.

  • It was cold, wet and windy.

6. Adjectives, ending in -ing and -ed.
There are adjectives ending in -ing and -ed. These are participle constructions, used like adjectives. Here are some examples:

A) Here the adjective is put before the noun:

  • Yesterday I read an amusing story in a magazine.
  • Doris has a boring job.
  • We watched the group of excited people.

B) Here the adjective is put after the verb:

  • I was not at all amused by the discussion.
  • Children get bored very quickly.
  • The end of the film was really exciting for me.

 

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What’s up with hardware?

 

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In information technology, hardware is the physical aspect of computers, telecommunications, and other devices. The term arose as a way to distinguish the “box” and the electronic circuitry and components of a computer from the program you put in it to make it do things. The program came to be known as the software.

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Software is a general term for the various kinds of programs used to operate computers and related devices. (The term hardware describes the physical aspects of computers and related devices.)

Software can be thought of as the variable part of a computer and hardware the invariable part. Software is often divided into two;

  1. Application software (programs that do work users are directly interested in).
  2. System software (which includes operating systems and any program that supports application software).

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Firmware is a software program permanently etched into a hardware device such as a keyboards, hard drive, BIOS, or video cards. It is programmed to give permanent instructions to communicate with other devices and perform functions like basic input/output tasks. Firmware is typically stored in the flash ROM (read only memory) of a hardware device. It can be erased and rewritten.

Firmware was originally designed for high level software and could be changed without having to exchange the hardware for a newer device. Firmware also retains the basic instructions for hardware devices that make them operative. Without firmware, a hardware device would be non-functional.

Source

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As the name implies, multimedia is the integration of multiple forms of media. This includes text, graphics, audio, video, etc.

For example, a presentation involving audio and video clips would be considered a “multimedia presentation.” Educational software that involves animations, sound, and text is called “multimedia software.” CDs and DVDs are often considered to be “multimedia formats” since they can store a lot of data and most forms of multimedia require a lot of disk space.

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Literacy with Information and Communication Technology (LwICT) means thinking critically and creatively, about information and about communication, as citizens of the global community, while using ICT responsibly and ethically.

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This representation shows the relationship between ICT literacy (i.e., demonstrating ICT skills) and literacy with ICT (i.e., thinking critically and creatively, about information and communication, as citizens of the global community, while using ICT responsibly and ethically). ICT literacy is a critical component of literacy with ICT, but it is not sufficient in itself.

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Digital competence consists not only of digital skills but also social and emotional aspects for using and understanding digital devices.

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Pronouns

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Definition: A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Pronouns can be in one of three cases: Subject, Object, or Possessive.

Rule 1: Subject pronouns are used when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. You can remember subject pronouns easily by filling in the blank subject space for a simple sentence.

Example: _____ did the assignment for Dr. Rose’s class.

I, you, he, she, it, we, and they all fit into the blank and are, therefore, subject pronouns.

Rule 2: Subject pronouns are also used if they rename the subject. They will follow to be verbs such as is, are, was, were, am, and will be.

Examples: It is he.

   It is we who are responsible for the decision to downsize.

Rule 3: Object pronouns are used everywhere else (direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition). Object pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.

Examples: Aishah Jalil talked to him.

    Are you talking to me?

*To be able to choose pronouns correctly, you must learn to identify clauses. A clause is a group of words containing a verb and subject.

Rule 4 (a): A strong clause can stand on its own.

Examples: She is hungry.

I am feeling well today.

Rule 4 (b): A weak clause begins with words such as although, since, if, when, and because. Weak clauses cannot stand on their own.

Examples: Although she is hungry…

If she is hungry…

Since I am feeling well today…

Rule 4 (c): If a sentence contains more than one clause, isolate the clauses, so that you can decide which pronoun is correct.

Examples: (weak) Although she is hungry, (strong) she will give him some of her food.

(weak) Although this gift is for him, (strong) I would like you to                       have it.

Rule (5): Possessive pronouns show ownership and never need apostrophes. Possessive pronouns are mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, and theirs.


*The only time it’s has an apostrophe is when it is a contraction for ‘it is’ or ‘it has.’


 

Rule (6): Reflexive pronouns (myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves) should be used only when they refer back to another word in the sentence.

Correct: I did it myself.

Incorrect: My brother and myself did it.

*The word myself does not refer back to another word.

Correct: My brother and I did it.

Incorrect: Please give it to Shafiq or myself.

Correct: Please give it to Shafiq or me.

Subject Verb Agreement

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Basic rule: The basic rule states that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb.


NOTE: 
The trick is in knowing whether the subject is singular or plural.
The next trick is recognizing a singular or plural verb.


 

Hint: Verbs do not form their plurals by adding an s as nouns do. in order to determine which verb is singular and which one is plural, think of which verb you would use with he or she and which verb you would use with they.

Example: talk, talks

Which one is the singular form?

Which word would you use with he?

*We say, “He talks.” Therefore, talks is singular.

*We say, “They talk.” Therefore, talk is plural.

Rule 1: Two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb.

Example: My father or my mother is arriving by KTM today.

Rule 2: Two singular subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor require a singular verb as in Rule 1.

Examples: Neither Zayn Malik nor Liam is available.

    Either Sehun or Lee Min Ho is helping today with stage                                           decorations.

Rule 3: When I is one of the two subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor, put it second and follow it with singular verb am.

Example: Neither she nor I am going to the Global Ummatic Week.

Rule 4: When a singular subject is connected by or or nor to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

Example: The serving bowl or the plates go on that shelf.

Rule 5: When a singular and plural subject are connected by either/or or neither/nor, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb.

Example: Neither Justin nor the others are available.

Rule 6: As a general rule, use a plural verb with two or more subjects when they are connected by and.

Example: A car and a bike are my means of transportation.

Rule 7: Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or not. IGNORE these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb.

Examples: The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.

   Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of his shaking.

Rule 8: The pronouns each, everyone, every one, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, and somebody are singular and require singular verbs. Do not be misled by what follows of.

Examples: Each of the girls sings well.

   Every one of the cakes is gone.


NOTE:

Everyone is one word when it means everybody.

Every one is two words when the meaning is each one.