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Mapping musical elements for inclusive language teaching

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The use of music in English language classrooms is often restricted to activities based around song lyrics, but the many similarities between music and language mean that its potential as a language learning tool is enormous. Musical activities can help learners to develop good memory strategies for retaining vocabulary and grammatical structures, so that their working memories are freed up for other, higher-order functions. The development of phonological awareness, beyond the individual phonemes of English, is facilitated by tapping into students' existing awareness of fundamental elements of music, such as rhythm, pitch change, dynamics and tempo. This allows language learners to refine their comprehension and production of spoken language, so as to communicate more effectively. In addition, using musical activities enables us to build positive affect and motivation, to influence the energy levels in the classroom, and offer students an environment in which they can find the focus needed to complete tasks. By introducing collaborative activities, it is possible to develop better group dynamics, and foster a learning environment in which everybody feels part of the group, and able to contribute according to their individual strengths. This is key to implementing genuinely inclusive practices in the language classroom.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Language Issues is the part peer-reviewed journal of NATECLA, the national association for teaching English and other community languages to adults. The journal explores the area between academic research and classroom practice, sharing experiences of teaching, training and management and disseminating research and ideas relating to language, political and social issues. Language Issues comprises articles on published and unpublished research, current studies and pieces of action research relating to ESOL and community languages, language learning theories, methods, materials and learners. Voices from the Classroom brings reflections and experiences from teachers, students and others on topics ranging from bilingualism to testing to poetry in the language classroom. There are also interviews with professionals from the field, reviews and reports. Language Issues looks at broad issues and big ideas and is an invaluable resource for everyone interested in language teaching and learning, both in in the UK and elsewhere in the world. You can subscribe to the journal via the NATECLA website. Publisher: National Association for Teaching English and other Community Languages to Adults.
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