Byron Bay – Singing to Learn English – 16 June 2022

Recently, there have been different sounds coming from our Intermediate classroom on a Friday.

Teacher Elizabeth has harnessed the joy of being together in wonderful Byron Bay to help students learn English through singing! So far, they have learnt ‘The Piano Man’ by Billy Joel, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ by the Beatles and ‘Summer of ’69’ by Bryan Adams. This week they were singing ‘Talking to the Moon’ by Bruno Mars.

Below, Elizabeth describes her reasons and process for using songs in the classroom:

“We usually do the song on a Friday afternoon, to get the students in the mood for Friday night.

We start by all having most of the lyrics printed out and then listen a couple of times to fill in the blanks. Then we discuss the words. Songs often have a lot of interesting vocabulary (eg: Standin’ on your mumma’s porch = a covered shelter in front of the entrance of a building).

After we look at the language, we sing it through once while seated. Because the lyrics have to fit the beat, or into a bar of music, the students have the challenge of flowing all the words together so they get the timing right. Not to mention also singing in tune, and also moving at the same time! This is one of the best ways to practise pronunciation. 

After the first sing through, we go over the pronunciation and the timing. We might discuss aspirated or stopped Ts or look at how singers pronounce “want to” as “wanna” and “going to” as “gonna”. Every song is different and has so much to teach. We sometimes even correct the grammar in the songs! Then we stand up and sing it again.

As a teacher I see pronunciation as a very physical thing, so I like to get my students to stand up and really feel their bodies when we focus on pronunciation – it’s also better for their singing.  Then we all gather around a table to sing it again, making a kind of circle as we all feel more confident singing in a group. Finally, we find the beat in our bodies, and we all sway in the same direction at the same time as we sing it once more – and of course, we freestyle in the guitar solos! I’m finding that the classes I’ve been teaching recently are the best classes I’ve ever taught in terms of singing, their voices are so amazing, they are so enthusiastic and we’re all having so much fun. The only problem is deciding what song to sing next…

On a final note, the biggest pub in town, The Northern has an event every Friday night “The Piano Man”, where a pianist will play whatever song you request. So all my students are able to go there, request the songs they have been learning and start a real life sing-a-long in the pub with all the locals. What a way to take classroom learning into the real world!”

 

Learn English in Byron Bay. Lexis English students study General English, IELTS, FCE, CAE, and English plus Surfing in a friendly and professional school right in the heart of Byron Bay and only 15 minutes from the beach.

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