This idea occurred to me when I was dusting off my flute. I wanted to record my favourite piece of music by Mozart via Audacity when I realized how easy it is to make learning more personalized in the classroom. Most students I teach play, or used to play, a musical instrument. For those who don’t there are triangles, drums, various sticks, etc. The thing is that in an EFL classroom, certain grammar points and vocabulary will be learned and remembered easier if put into meaningful context. Why should the students just sit at their desks, with their books opened, doing exercises and discussing what a John and a Mary can do? Of course, I always ask my students to talk about themselves as well, but is it enough? Why not ask the students to learn by doing – by recording a short video or audio of them playing a musical instrument? The kinaesthetic learning type students will be excited. Give your students an opportunity to use technology and be creative.
It is highly motivating if the teacher plays a musical instrument as well and makes a recording himself/herself. It might be easier for some to record the sound only; some students may be more courageous and make a video. But it’s always safer to make a recording at home than to perform live in front of the whole class.
There are lots of things that can be done with the recordings.
- After having created the videos, they can be shared online (on GE.TT, for example).
- For the speaking activity, students watch or listen to the recordings in the class and produce language such as Jana plays the guitar. In the video she was playing her favourite song. Martin doesn’t normally play the drums but in the video he was playing a short piece. He was good. I can’t play the piano but my mum had taught me a short piece of music for this project. With appropriate scaffolding, this language will naturally emerge. You can always adjust the language to the level you need.
- As their homework assignment, students can write about the recordings: they can listen to them again at home and comment on each (or they choose one or two). As this is a very sensitive subject, students should be reminded that they can only give positive comments.
- You can ask your students to take pictures of their instruments, and various parts of the instruments, and display the pics on the board with word tags. This board can be placed in the classroom together with the photos of the students who play the instruments.
- If you feel up to it, you can make a band and practise some music for the class performance (and again share it online, e.g. make a YouTube video). Your students might feel hesitant at first but they’ll love it in the end.