RMIT Vietnam NewsMusic hits the right note in the classroom

Music hits the right note in the classroom

Friday, May 30, 2014 - 16:53
RMIT Vietnam Teacher Trainer Nico Lorenzutti at the TESOL 2014 International Convention and Language Expo in Portland, Oregon

Simple but effective activities to add music to the classroom for English language learners have been developed by RMIT Vietnam Teacher Trainer Nico Lorenzutti. 

Music as part of an English language program can be a creative way to add active learning elements into the curriculum, such as movement, prediction, student-to-student interaction as well as friendly competition.

But despite the potential of music as a dynamic teaching tool, many teachers find they simply lack the time, training or ideas to adapt music for language learning in varied, active or learner-centered ways.

Mr Lorenzutti said teachers often rely on the 'gap fill' teaching activity for listening tasks in the classroom, bypassing the rich potential of songs as authentic and stimulating texts for students.

"Listen and fill in the blanks, listen again, check and move onto the next activity, is almost a mantra," he said.

"Songs can be used in so many more variable and stimulating ways, such as challenging students to learn and think about language as well as providing opportunities for integrated skills practice and cultural and intercultural analysis".

Mr Lorenzutti has represented RMIT Vietnam at international conferences for Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, the Emirates and the United States, and he will be presenting at Asia TEFL in Malaysia in late 2014.

"RMIT Vietnam has been very supportive in allowing me to take advantage of these opportunities," he said.

In March 2014, Mr Lorenzutti presented his paper titled 'Beyond the Gap Fill - Dynamic Activities for Song in the EFL Classroom' in a 90-minute workshop at the TESOL 2014 International Convention and Language Expo in Portland, Oregon, the largest annual convention for English language teaching professionals.

An article based on his paper was published in English Teaching Forum, a quarterly journal by the US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

It covered nine simple but effective ways to use music as a learning tool for students across all age ranges and English levels.

Mr Lorenzutti said songs and chants often work well with younger learners to help acquire new vocabulary in a non-threatening, naturalistic manner.

"Older students and more advanced learners can undertake activities such as considering the lyrics, examining the language choice and analysing the cultural elements of a song," he said.

"Activities incorporating music in the classroom have been in circulation across English language programs for many years but they often remain unknown and unused resources for many English language teachers.

"The nine activities I presented are easy to prepare and can be employed in multi-level classes."