Sunday, 10 October 2010

Jukeboxing the EFL Classroom

The Old Jukebox

Well, I have to say that I had doubts about whether or not to publish my last post. I mean, I try, in my humble way, to be useful to my fellow teachers. Picture yourself searching for ideas about that perfect warmer or role play, somehow ending up here only to read about how I had a great holiday this summer.

And then I go and write about different things you can do when you want to waste time online.

As if you had any time to waste.

I did say at the very end that your best ideas might come while you are just idly surfing the Net. And I talked about why I got addicted to Blip.

One of the most common topics of discussion in the EFL classroom is music. And almost every time you ask your students what sort of music they like they say something like: "Oh, I don't know... Different stuff... I listen to everything... It depends..."

Why is it so difficult for our students to define the kind of music they like? Well, can you answer that question easily?

Most of us are not into one kind of music all the time. Even if you are an obsessive Leonard Cohen fan like me, you might want to listen to other singers from time to time. Then, there is the music you listen to at weddings, the music you listened to when you were 12, that song that you don't really like, but it reminds you of your first time in Britain when you were 15...

Music speaks to us on so many levels. When you use Blip (which is a social network, after all) you will soon find the people who listen to your kind of music. They will blip that song you listened to on the bus while you were on your honeymoon. Then they'll throw a bit of Mozart in. They will post something with great lyrics only to follow that with the song you have never heard of but which you love instantly. That's the way music is meant to be shared.

Piano Keyboard Macro

Now, how can we use this in TEFL?

The most direct way would be to get the students to sign up for Blip itself. Get them to add each other (and you) to their "Favorite DJs" list and start sharing. Ask them to follow each song with a short message Twitter-style. They could, for example, explain why they like the song, where they first heard it, how it makes them feel... And you could have a different theme each week - sad songs, songs that wake you up, songs that make you think.

The same thing can be done in a wiki. The students can search YouTube and embed videos into the wiki. They can Google the lyrics of the song and copy-paste them under the video. You could have a new set of videos every week and they would learn a lot of new vocabulary this way. Another place where this can be done is Facebook. Or they could do that in the class blog, if you have one. This has one additional benefit, since you can ask them to write a short blog post about the song and how it makes them feel.

In one of my old posts I wrote about creating a "time capsule wiki" where you and your students could share images and videos that remind you of your past. You can read more about that here.

Finally, you could use the lyrics as a follow up activity in class. Just a short part of the song will do.

You could, for example, walk into the classroom one day and write these lyrics from Gotta Have You by The Weepies onto the board:

Then you could put the students into pairs or groups and ask them to discuss the lyrics (what they mean, how they make them feel...) and just sit back, observe and see what they come up with.

P. S. Make sure you read The Ultimate Guide to YouTube for Educators . Lots of useful information on how to embed, download, edit, capture and record YouTube videos.


Janet Bianchini said...

Dear Natasa

A fabulous post as usual. Lots of great, creative ideas!

Many thanks for sharing!


Natasa said...

Hi Janet. I am really glad you have enjoyed this post. It is always good to see you here.

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Luciana said...

Hi Natasa,
I'm in the same EVO session as you and I decided to check your blog and I have to say I loved it. I'm interested in learning about new technologies for ESL teaching and I feel I found a good place for that. The ideas to use music are great.
See you at #evomlit. Thanks!!!
Luciana from Brazil.

Natasa said...

Hi Luciana. I am glad you have enjoyed this post. Do come any time. And see you at #evomlit.


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