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Titulka > Modul články > základní vzdělávání > Song types and how to select a good one?...

Song types and how to select a good one? II. part

Teoretický příspěvek
odborný příspěvek
Učitelé obvykle vybírají do výuky písně nebo texty z žánru popu. Tato část příspěvku o písních ve výuce anglického jazyka podává základní rozdělení písní dle metody práce, typů textů a žánrů. Krátce odpovídá na otázku, jakým základním vodítkem se mají učitelé řídit při výběru zajímavého textu či hudby.

There are hundreds of songs which a teacher can introduce in his classes. He can play recorded music on a tape recorder, a video, or a DVD, use a data projector with a laptop and internet connection (for music taken from or other websites) or he can play it on any musical instrument he is familiar with. Songs can be divided into these groups below; (though the division is not finite)

a) Action songs

Action songs require movement or any type of pantomime while singing. It is based on TPR (Total physical response by S. Asher)  and offers huge potential for learning new vocabulary, language, verbal development and forming of concepts. During singing students can connect the meaning of the words with movement, this creates associations which make new vocabulary easier to remember. Singing and moving also relaxes students’ emotions. These kinds of songs are predominantly used with children or young learners, but can be also adapted to higher levels.

b) Traditional and special occasion songs

Traditional songs have two advantages – nice melody and interesting story that has cultural binds. Most of them keep periodically repeating form of the verse and have a series of other discourses which makes them easy to follow. In Great Britain some of them are sung in the special occasions or specific period of the year. By learning them  students get an insight into British culture. Moreover, these songs can be sung outside the classroom (at a Christmas or birthday party) to enliven parties, to rise pupils’ interest in English so that they can become more confident users of L2 (second language acquisition).

c) Jazz chants

They have become popular thanks to Carolyn Graham. Nowadays, a little bit outdated, but still we can adapt and make use of them in our modern classroom. Chants stand for the rhythmic expression of Standard American English as it occurs in situational contexts. They are designed as a second language acquisition tool to develop the student´s appreciation of the rhythm and intonation patterns of Spoken American English. Students are shown natural intonation patterns and idiomatic expressions through jazz. They consist of time-stressed phrases of a certain length which can be tapped out by foot, hands or pencil to help identify the rhythm. The dialogues include three basic forms of conversaitonal exchange:

• Question and response.
• Command and response.
• Response to a provocative statement.

d) Different genres songs

This group can be divided according to existings streams in the past and current  musical production.

Classical music - Today, one of the ways Merriam-Webster defines classical is “of, relating to, or being music in the educated European tradition that includes such forms as art song, chamber music, opera, and symphony”. The most recognizable styles are the symphony, opera, choral works, chamber music, Gregorian chant, the madrigal, and the Mass. We can choose from different music genres to suit the mood of our class, e.g.; Folk songs, Instrumental songs, Hip-hop songs, Drum and Base songs, Rock and pop songs...etc. Currently, most of the teachers rely on using pop songs because they are easy to remember, might have simple beat and clear pronunciation. There is a question though; aren´t our students overloaded or bored by these pop groups? I really suggest trying different musical genres to bring or to introduce to classroom. These songs could create strong subculture with their own rituals.

Criteria for the song selection?

The teachers of English should have the knowledge and skill to do the following:

• be able to select interesting texts on the topic of “music”
• be able to analyse the didactic potential of a particular song
• know how to teach a song to the pupils
• be able to give a talk on the musical life of the target language community
• critically evaluate songs with the purpose of including them in class activities

Teachers are not always sure whether their choice of music is not only to their taste, and would appeal to their pupils, but each piece of music should bare certain artistic quality. In my opinion, teenagers want to differ from the middle-aged generation (of their parents), thus music broadcasted in mainstream current radio stations may not  appeal to our pupils as much as we would think. Then the choice of suitable piece of music could be made by the pupils themselves because they are the target group – they should be amused and motivated.

Teachers can invite pupils to make their own contribution, if possible. So if we have f.e. a jazzman or a guitar player in a class, let´s ask him to present himself in a class. Other classmates can form a band with “amateur” musical instruments or they can play a role of back-up singers. This is usually welcomed also as an afternoon performance, where other schoolmembers can be invited. Or they can perform on a special occasion f.e.during Christmas time.

It is also important that teachers adapt the selected song to suit their class/the level of students. There is a significant difference among these songs, in terms of use of grammar, vocabulary and meaning (e.g. the use of metaphors, irony, etc.). Can songs for adults be used for elementary or pre-intermediate pupil classes? For lower levels, it is probably better to make a choice among songs intended for pupils (though not for adult learners!), but those where there is morphology, syntax, as well as lexis simplified, easier to understand. More complex songs in terms of advanced use of language are to be used with intermediate or higher groups where methaphoric and idiomatic meanings can be revealed and discussed in the open class.


Conway, Hannah and Finney, John. Musical enhancement in the early years. In Teacher Development, 7:1, 2003, s. 121.

Graham, Carolyn. Grammar chants: More Jazz Chants, Oxford: OUP, 1993.

Graham, Carolyn. Jazz Chants, Oxford: OUP, 1978.

Graham, Carolyn. Mother Goose Jazz Chants, Oxford: OUP, 1994.

Hadfield, Jill. Classroom Dynamics, Oxford: OUP, 1994.

Harmer, Jeremy. How to Teach English, Longman, 1998.

Harmer, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching, Longman, 2001.

Jedynak, Michael. Using Music in the Classroom. In English Teaching Forum, Vol. 38, 4, 2000.

Laroy, Clement. Pronunciation, Oxford: OUP, 1995.

Littlejohn, Andrew and Hicks, Diana. Cambridge English Worldwide, Student’s Book,  Cambridge: CUP, 1999.

Murphey, Tim. Music and Song, Oxford: OUP, 1992.

Orlova, Natalia. Developing Speech Habits with the Help of Songs,, 2007-12-21.

Oxenden, Clive and Latham-Koenig, Christina. New English File, Oxford: OUP, 2006.

Scrivener, Jim. Learning Teaching, Macmillan, 1994.

Vale, David. Teaching Children English, Cambridge: CUP.

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