Have you ever noticed that when ABBA sings they don’t sound Swedish? Country singer Mel Tillis, a chronic stutterer, lost his speech impediment when performing. There has to be something that happens to your voice when you sing. That’s why I often use music in the classroom.
In June, we were working on noun/verb contractions. One student said he had difficulty with “that’ll.” I had everyone sing “That’ll Be the Day”, and as quick as you can say: “Buddy Holly ”, his problem was solved!
I have also had some success with other consonant sounds that can often be difficult for non-English speakers. For example, Arabic speakers have trouble with Ps and Bs, so while I was in Saudi Arabia, I decided to see if I could find songs that would be helpful in learning how to pronounce them. A bit of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” really worked well.
Music is not only useful for teaching pronunciation, but also for teaching English rhythm, expressions, and culture. I try to use songs that have the lyrics to assist with listening skills.
Lyrics Training is a fun web site that uses music to help with listening. Students can create their own playlist, print the
lyrics, and even buy the music! They can choose from beginner, intermediate, advanced or expert levels, as well as perform karaoke. A music video is presented as a game, where students input the missing words and their performance is rated by hits, fails, or gaps.