Everyone loves music. And students of foreign languages love to learn about songs sung in the language they are learning. They often want to know what they mean. Unlike a lot of music in Spanish, where the song is a story with accompanying music, British and American rock and pop tends to be about the tune, with any old lyrics they think of added later. Quite often, the words mean nothing more than the lyricist was on a lot of drugs at the time.
So what is the value of a music orientated lesson? Is it worth the effort? Well, it can be done if you choose your song carefully. It’s a good idea to add some grammar in there somewhere too. I’ve done a few songs, the latest being Tom’s Diner by Suzanne Vega. It’s a three part lesson. Firstly I dictated the first half of the song to them, but without any prepositions. There’s a few tricky words in there and some homophones – words that sound exactly the same, but are spelt differently. Eg ‘Tour’ and ‘Tore’. For the second part, I give them a print out of the lyrics with blanks where the prepositions are. They get 5 minutes to guess the prepositions, and then they get to listen to the song to check their answers.
There’s a bit of everything in the lesson. Listening, grammar, reading and more listening. I chose Tom’s Diner because there is an acapella version on YouTube. Not brilliant quality, but good enough. It’s no good playing a song where the words are drowned out!