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PopuLLar – Motivating high school students to learn languages through music

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Introduction

There is a huge need to motivate secondary school students to learn languages, focus digital competences and be creative. To achieve a real influence over these areas, educators need to harness the existing interests of students into their learning. The closer teaching can be allied with the interests of students the greater the potential for engagement.

One of the main issues around the 1 plus 2 language policy is that despite the best efforts of Europe, the teaching of English is rising and other languages becoming less (Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe 2008). One of the answers to this quandary is to introduce an understanding of the number, richness and culture of other languages. But there are very few materials that can meet this challenge in a way that can directly engage and motivate students to foster this understanding.
The workshop scenario described below is based on teenagers’ primary interest: music. Teenagers are overwhelmingly engaged with music, 92% of 14-17 year olds own an MP3 player and they listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day (Source University of Hertfordshire’s Music and Entertainment Industries Research Group Summer 2009).
The workshop harnesses this interest for language learning motivation and uses the students own interest in a way that will engage and motivate them.

The practices presented here were performed by groups of students  across Europe, starting with six countries: United Kingdom, Turkey, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and Italy.  The students were almost completely autonomous in performing the activities and the teachers were only facilitators in areas where the students could need their help.

More: intro

STEP 1   SELECT A SONG

Aims

  • To select one song students know and like
  • To accept and respect the other’s choice and reach a compromise

Piloting in Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The students “own” the workshop. It is their workshop.

The teachers’ job is to advise and help them, if and when they need some help. But students should not hold back from asking the teacher for help, if they’re stuck or don’t understand something.

Students select a song. This can be anything they like; it could be pop, metal, dance, folk, classic, jazz, etc. They will probably know the lyrics of the song that they choose. They should completely ignore them, because they are going to write their own lyrics and use just the melody (music) of the song.

More: step 1

STEP 2  STUDENTS REWRITE THE LYRICS (IN THEIR OWN NATIVE LANGUAGE)

Aims

  • To create the lyrics of a song
  • To foster work team, creativity, use of the language

OB 2 Workshopedited

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a very creative stage of the workshop and should be undertaken in steps. It is

quite a difficult challenge, but we have seen many groups of students do this very well indeed.

More: step 2

STEP 3 – TRANSLATE THE LYRICS INTO THE TARGET LANGUAGE

Aims

  • To translate song lyrics
  • To deepen the use of the target language through team work
  • To develop a learning to learn approach, social and creative skills

Translating the lyrics to the melody is quite a difficult part but students can revise their initial lyrics, if they wish to make it easier.

They do not have to make a literal translation, but they should adapt their song in the target

language to the framework of the song. Accuracy is not necessary; success is in making a song in their target language that works.

More: step 3

STEP 4 – RECORD SINGING (BOTH) AUDIO & VIDEO

Aims

  • To video a performance
  • To deepen technical skills and digital competences
  • To develop team work, creative abilities and sense of initiative
  • To practice acceptance of others’ ideas and suggestions

Students record the two versions of their song, in their native language and their target language.

More: step 4

STEP 5 – UPLOAD AND SHARE 

Aims

  • To upload a video into YouTube and embed it into a Wiki
  • To develop digital competence
  • To develop intercultural awareness

Students may want to continue their experience and upload their video on YouTube and then embedding it on the PopuLLar project wiki where there is a repository of video made by students.

More: step 5

STEP 6 – SELECT SONGS MADE BY OTHER STUDENTS – TRANSLATE – SING – RECORD AND SHARE (OPTIONAL STEP)

Aims

  • To translate other students’ songs, produce a video, upload it into YouTube and embed it into a Wiki
  • To develop digital competence
  • To develop intercultural awareness

Students may want to continue their workshop experience by navigating the Wiki space http://popullar.wikispaces.com/  and choosing a song from a video of students in another country. The can then sequence similar steps as the previous ones: translate the lyrics into their native language, singing the song (in their native language), rehearse their performance, video it and share it.

 

Comments

  1. Avatar of Maria-Schejbal

    Maria-Schejbal

    4 December 2014

    The idea of this practice indeed hits the nail on the head with recognition of teenagers’ primary interest. No doubt that music and songs can be an excellent tool in teaching languages. Another motivating mechanism is the Wiki space created specifically for sharing the results of the exercise. Great idea!

    I can see some similarities between these workshop activities and our way of incorporating sign language into theatre production. In this case we also do a specific “translation” of the song lyrics – you can view the results at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnE4ZQYDkxQ

  2. Avatar of Teresa

    Teresa

    4 December 2014

    Thank you, Maria. I’m glad you like the idea. Students liked it too… Many of them told us that the results of their team work had exceeded their expectations…

    Teachers were pleased to see that their students were so engaged that they worked on the project even after curricular hours. Finding the right words to adapt to a melody implied deepening the language quite a lot and, although no specific grammar rules or other specific aspects of language teaching as those developed in an ordinary school lesson were involved, still practicing the language by translating/singing was an excellent outcome. But not only… students developed working as a team, creativity, technical skills… having fun while learning….

    Not to mention that music helps us retain what we learn. Those students will remember the lyrics of the songs also later in life… Can you remember the words of a song you learnt when you were teenager?

    I’ve just seen the video on the link sent in your message… It’s great! It must have been a beautiful moment and an artistic creation really rewarding. Was it a “Culture” project?

  3. Avatar of Cinzia

    Cinzia

    12 December 2014

    What I love more in this project is the level of autonomy that the students have demonstraded in organizing by themselves all the steps of the project and with marvellous results!

    Cinzia

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