I always joke that one day I would like to teach with a resident DJ providing link music to underscore my classes. I am not actually joking as I really would!
As my students know I like to use background music to underscore class activities. I believe that it really helps to create a more buoyant atmosphere.
Some background music during tasks not only energizes the class (and me too), but it also helps to create a more comfortable and less inhibited environment in which students can try out new vocabulary in role play and discussions.
To my mind, without music the atmosphere can feel a bit inhibited.
I can compare it to the difference in the atmosphere you find when you are in a restaurant that is all quiet and one where there is some background music playing.
For other teachers out there, who may also have limited access to modern technology, it's really easy enough though to act as your own DJ. I just use my phone and a pair of computer speakers.
Once could also have a few CD's with appropriate music and sound tracks to use for various activities.
Once I have asked students to go ahead with a task, the first thing I do, and this has now become instinctive now, is to reach for my phone to supply appropriate music to underscore the activity.
I have several different playlists of songs and music tracks. Some are more upbeat for 'cocktail party' sections of the class, where I ask students to stand and circulate and discuss the current topic, just like one would at a cocktail party. ( without the wine of course)
I also have more laid back background music for reading and pair work. I particularly like surf folk rock music. I even have fanfare type music for when we have done a quiz and as I am about to give the answers to an exercise!
I always wanted to be a surfer, so when my 21 year old nephew came to stay with us from South Africa and introduced me to Timmy Curran's Surf Rock music, I was hooked. I drove him crazy by playing it continuously in our flat in London.
It has proved an excellent CD to use in class to underscore the lessons. Please see below some links to songs from it that I have been using in my morning classes.
By way of example, the video directly below the end of this post, is the one that I use to play under the first independent task of the day. It's called 'Daylight's coming' and it creates a nice atmosphere to start off the day with.
Timmy Curran is a former champion surfer and now singer/song-writer. Curran's music is very laid back but has a nice surf folk drive to it which makes it perfect to use in class.
Another favourite from the CD is 'Moving on' which has a nice light driving rhythm to it and boosts energy as we move into exercises that we are doing in the last section of the day.
As my students leave my class at the end, I always play an upbeat dance track so as to end the class on a very positive and uplifting note.
I joke that it's the type of music that one would hear when a cruise liner sets sail from the port.
At the moment Will Pharrals' Happy is perfect to close a session on a high note.
I recently wrote another blog post on how and why I use this song in class. The post can be see at http://lawrencehilton.com/3/post/2014/03/brilliant-cape-town-dance-video-happy-homesick1.html
To finish this week, please see a link below to another classic surf song by the Beach Boys called 'Good Vibrations' which is what I think using background music adds to language classes.
Here's a nice lesson plan and worksheet for a conversation lesson about music suggested by Neil from the Teaching English – British Council on facebook team at http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/conversation-lesson-music
For more on Timmy Curran here's a nice article from a surfing magazine at http://www.freaksurfmag.com/interview-with-tim-curran-455.html
Timmy's website can be found at http://www.timmycurran.com/?cat=11
Main pic - rukes.com
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