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“Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and leaves the memory with difficulty. Magical music never leaves the memory.” (Sir Thomas Beecham)

One could say that songs on video are an effective “filler” during the class and may serve to change the pace or mood of the lesson. In fact, some of the course books include songs on audio tapes that focus on a specific grammar structure or other issues in question. Authentic songs seem to be even better for classroom use since they are up-to-date and feature famous and popular artists that are often regarded as role models among teenagers.

Modern music videos very often are similar to short movies. They have a plot, which is supplemented with dynamic action and accompanied by suitable lyrics (see exercise 1). These videos frequently bear a lot of cultural loads. They are concise, thus “packed” with lots of visual cues, which can be effectively used to present a given cultural aspect. Scrivener recognizes the following techniques to be used with songs:

• gapped text
Students are to supply the missing words from the lyric handouts. This can be done as a pre-viewing exercise where students have to make predictions about the missing words. The deleted words may serve as prompts for one keyword or a cultural topic later to be discussed.

• song jumble
This technique is especially useful when the song has a plot and the following events are clearly distinguishable. Students can be given sets of cut-up lyrics and work them out the right order. For this kind of exercise to be “culturally” valuable it takes a song with interesting content describing a cultural event, for instance, Christmas, New Year’s party, etc.

• matching pictures
This is when students are given pictures that present the story from the video. As a pre-viewing activity, the pictures are to be put in order. What is more, at this stage, students can be asked to make guesses about the general content of the song, and lyrics or to write captions for each picture.

• action movements
It is when the students are asked to mime or act out a single line from the lyrics handouts. In short, they must invent a sequence of behaviors to accompany the song and act them out when the song is played.

Apart from all the advantages, it is essential to consider potential problems that may arise during such a video-based class. First of all, the students must comprehend and relate to the information presented. They must have a clear notion of their native culture in order for cross-cultural interaction to take place. Therefore, the videos must be carefully selected to match students’ native knowledge of culture. Language, as well as the content, must be well considered before proceeding with the material. Second of all, the time factor has to be taken into consideration. Bearing in mind the fact that all four skills should be worked on in a perfect classroom situation, these culture-based classes will have to be skillfully planned by means of length and timing. Dwelling on a particular video too long would rob the class of valuable time. Nevertheless, this footage may serve as a listening comprehension followed by a reading/writing task or a speaking one. Thus, the four skills will not suffer even if the cultural exercise is prolonged.

In sum, all of the techniques presented earlier are, in fact, simple devices by means of which students are expected to learn and have fun at the same time. Their purpose is to make learning as meaningful as possible. As I quoted before, some of the songs can become very deeply rooted in one’s memory and if a teacher is lucky enough to find a video that will meet students’ tastes, he or she may expect just that. Music is a means of personalization when it comes to learners’ interests, no matter the age. They are the ones to whom partying is not a strange thing. This is what they associate music with and that is what teachers should take an advantage of. I would say “smuggling” the target culture this way is, undoubtedly, the most effective of all the other techniques I am familiar with.

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