Video: Music Videos in the Classroom
In June of 2016, my young teenagers took an exam to gain acceptance into a competitive high school. The school has the best programs and gives students a competitive edge for college and opportunities to study abroad. My job was to prepare them for the spoken English interview. The top score for the comprehensive exam is ten. To get into the high school, they need at least a secen. The spoken English interview comprised only one point. Where fractions of points could mean the difference between getting in or not, quite a few students took the English interview prep class quite seriously.
Between the two classes I taught, 19 students got accepted into the school. I will never know exactly how much of my teaching made them perform well on the test and then how much did that one point factor into them getting a high score. But I heard from the co-teacher that many people took notice at the high number of Ky Nguyen students who passing the test.
That is why this year, I was given two more classes that have the same goal in mind. But this time, we started a year in advance. We are not yet preparing them for the actual interview. That will happen in the spring. The interview requires them to respond to one of twenty topics and speak continuously for 2 minutes. Next spring, will train them to form a two-minute oral composition. But in the meantime, I a getting the used to speaking at length. Some weeks they are giving speeches. Other weeks it is a panel conversation in a talk show setting. Sometimes we are singing songs.
In October, we were reading about the history of rock n roll. I taught them the Beatles' song "Octopus Garden." The words are cute, the message is positive, and the melody is light. It is perfect your young students.
In the second class, we used James Taylor's, "You've Got a Friend."
Both classes have a long way to go but making the video and showing them is like holding a mirror up to them. At first they shy away from the sight of the their ability but eventually they have to take a look and examine what is working and what they need to work on.
I really wish I had more time to teach songs. I think there is no better way to train students to adjust to different rhythms of speech, have them work on enunciating correctly, and loosen their inhibitions. A lot of times, students are hiding excellent English under a veneer of timidness. Once they show themselves, they shine.
Ultimately, this is what I want them to be able to do for their interview. They want to stand out from the crowd, not blend in and go unnoticed.