In this elective class, music and song treat the English language as a meeting point and a commonality rather than as a barrier. Students of different proficiency levels come together every Monday and Wednesday for an hour to listen to new songs and melodies, engaging with the English language in a different kind of way. The songs range in genre and style from popular music to blues to rap to feel-good, easy listening. In the course of 12 weeks students listen to artists like Adele, Macklemore, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, and many more.
In response to the songs, students bravely bring their voices to the table, discussing the content of the lyrics, the sounds of the instruments, and messages of the artists. “This class gives students a chance to express themselves creatively, an area of learning that’s often overlooked in English language classrooms,” says Kendall Nelson, the class instructor. “They can connect to English through their emotional responses to the songs.”
Of course, the class also focuses on the meaning and mechanics of the language. The lessons incorporate songs’ target grammar structures, figurative language, and aspects of pronunciation. Students grapple with the discrepancies between written, academic English and conversational, spoken English. In the process of enjoying the music, they work to understand figurative language techniques such as similes and metaphors.
Most importantly, this class is designed to be a time that students look forward to and enjoy. One new student was coaxed into attending the class by her instructor. “When is the next one?” the student said after the first session. “I’d like to be a part of it.”