Teaching English to music majors

Describing types of activities as to teaching basic skills, such as reading, listening, speaking and writing, monologic and dialogic speech development. Analysis of the usage of innovative technologies in the process of teaching English to music majors.

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Язык украинский
Дата добавления 12.05.2018
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УДК 378.016:811.111:78.071

Teaching english to music majors

Semen H. Ya., Associate Professor of Foreign Languages Department for Humanities, Chernivtsi Y. Fedkovych National University

Muradkhanian I. S., Associate Professor of Foreign Languages Department for Humanities, Chernivtsi Y. Fedkovych National University

Hladkoskok L. H.,

Associate Professor of Foreign Languages Department for Humanities, Chernivtsi Y. Fedkovych National University

Summary. The article deals with the problem of teaching English to music majors. Types of activities as to basic skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing, monologic and dialogic speech development, the usage of innovative technologies in the teaching process are singled out.

Key words: music, basic skills, music terminology, presentations, English for specific purposes.

Семен Г., Мурадханян I., Гладкоскок Л. Навчання музикантів англійської мови

Анотація. У статті розглядається проблема навчання музикантів англійської мови. Виділяються види діяльності згідно з основними вміннями: читання, аудіювання, говоріння, письмо; форми тренування монологічного та діалогічного мовлення, використання інноваційних технологій у процесі навчання.

Ключові слова: музика, основні навики, музична термінологія, презентації, професійна англійська мова.

Семен Г., Мурадханян И., Гладкоскок Л. Обучение музыкантов английскому языку

Аннотация. В статье рассматривается проблема обучения музыкантов английскому языку. Выделяются виды деятельности согласно основным навыкам: чтения, аудирования, говорения и письма; формы тренировки монологической и диалогической речи, использования инновационных технологий в процессе обучения.

Ключевые слова: музыка, основные навыки, музыкальная терминология, презентации, профессиональный английский язык.

The wouldbe musicians are in great need of thorough knowledge of English. In the course of centuries lyrical bards performed not only aesthetic but educational functions, too. They sang in different languages to different peoples at different places. Through translations they acquainted the audiences with the masterpieces of music such as operas, recitals and national folklore. And more valuable and more interesting still is the performance in the language of the original. Music majors have always had good ear for intonation and were in a way much more attentive to modulations of rhythm, syntagms devision, rising and falling tones as well as fallrise while reading individually or in chorus in class. While working at different sounds they paid special attention to interdental sounds, were eager to immitate the pronunciation. The teacher should be more a master of ceremonies, a choir master while working with future musicians for they quickly get tired, welcome changes in the forms of activities, enjoy drama in class. It is probably connected with their major and their specific way of life which is full of presentations, stage performances, participation in different competitions at the district, regional, AllUkrainian and international levels. Attendance in this case becomes a real problem as well as the level of their background which in some cases leaves much to be desired. In such situations oneonone tutorials become helpful and individual work with certain students help cover the gaps in knowledge and keep in pace with the rest of the group.

The topicality of the given issue lies in the fact that wouldbe musicians need fluent knowledge of English in their future activity and in order to enhance their motivation different forms of work are suggested based on the experience of teaching English to music majors.

The aim of this investigation is to show how music majors can be taught English most effectively.

The tasks are to give the general overview of previous investigations in this field, to show means of developing four basic skills, types of activities at the lessons and in extracurricular work.

Extracurricular activities also help students master the English language: watching films with the participation of stage music stars or about the famous musicians, discussing reading matter about the popular figures in the given domain provide students with additional information about their themes which are covered at their lessons in the chosen sphere of activity. These findings shall prove indispensable in their work at music schools both amateur and professional. Bucovyna has always been a great source of inspiration for our music majors. Lots of uncovered unexplained and unknown to wide public materials about the development of musical culture can be still found in our libraries both regional and district ones, to say nothing of our rich university library and archives. These sources inspired our scientist and prominent lecturer A. M. Dobryanskiy to write first the articles to be published in separate issues of “Bucovyna”, our regional newspaper, then collected and published as a book about Lidia Lypkivs'ka. Later on the stage presentation was arranged where some of our students participated.

The problem of teaching English to music majors has been investigated by Ye. G. Chechel and N. P. Chechel, 2011, T . Murphey, Ja. Suchy, 2007, O. Ye. Romanovska, 2004, 2008, E. Sherr, 2005. Many questions have been tackled in these works: musical education, the importance of music and song in language learning, greater effectivity of music in teaching English in comparison with poems. Manuals and dictionaries published in our country mostly combined music with other kinds of arts. Though the question has been in the centre of attention of these methodologists, professors and English teachers it still needs some further investigation. Bucovyna and its music traditions have always been a great source of inspiration for our music majors. In the article the conclusions are made on the basis of the work of music department, different kinds of activities are shown as to developing reading, listening, speaking and writing skills.

In the process of teaching English to music majors some sources can be helpful. Much valuable information may be found in the textbook for students and young scientists of the institutions of higher learning prepared by Ye. J. Chechel and N. P. Chechel [1].

The bulk of the manual is devoted to music in Ukraine, musical education, theoretical and historical musicology, composer's art, different music instruments performances, solo, choir and opera singing. In the manual the texts are provided with the pretext and posttext exercises, words and their translations including music terminology, questions on the text. Among informative materials there is the story of life and art of our Bucovynian singer D. Gnatuk [1, p. 287288]. The Units are provided with the situational dialogues, texts are prepared for skimming, average and close reading. The textbook is provided by Grammar commentary and translation tips. teaching innovative skill

In the resource book for teachers the author of the thesis on song and music in language learning T. Murphey writes that “the advantage of music materials is that they are so readily available to the teacher, and so immediately motivational to most students [2, p. 5].

The author dwells on the importance of music and song in language learning, suggests warmup, musical introduction cards, pop picture collage, questionnaires, story writing, working with quotations, using brainstorming [2].

The main peculiarity of the dictionaries and manuals earlier published in our country lies in the fact that they mostly combined music with other kinds of arts [3]. All of them used authentic sources such as The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians: on 20 vol., edited by S. Sadie [4]. Thorough investigation on the issue of the use of music in teaching English has been carried out in Brno in 2007 by V. Rosova under the guidance of'Ya. Suchy. The main conclusion is that the usage of music is more effective than the use of poems in teaching English. The same ideas are expressed by O. Ye. Romanovska whose articles published in 2004 and 2008 develop the criteria of selecting music and poetic folklore. The articles include algorithms of working with folklore music and poetic works. The use of American songs are in the centre of attention in the article by E. Sherr who used the authentic source “If you feel like singing”, Washington, 1993 to show the possibilities of folk music in the educational process and fight against mass culture. A lot of different sources are helpful with music majors [5, p. 175178; 6, p. 198220; 7; 8; 9].

Music majors are encouraged to write their own scripts concerting music, the themes being chosen by the students themselves. Thus, the script “Beatles forever” proved to be popular with them. It included much information about the unique group that became symbolic, songs of the time that make many listeners nostalgic. Not less is still popular the set of materials about Elvis Prestley. Implementing the principle of harmony, i.e. the unity of lexis, grammar and speech topic this theme combines Past Indefinite (the succession of actions which any biography would readily provide), music terminology that is also essential in teaching English to music majors (mostly genres of pop music, names of different instruments, words peculiar to music world etc.), the idea of Elvis Prestley's contribution into pop music and explanation of the reason of his everlasting popularity which is instructive and educational for music majors. The story may be illustrated by pictures, photos; a good background for presentation may be a sound track.

Understanding on hearing while teaching English to music majors is always connected with popular songs that are included into the units of different courses both national and authentic. Providing students with the texts of the songs that have gaps to be filled in while listening helps students to train their ears better for understanding some key words and expressions.

Teaching reading is the essential part of music majors' background. Jubilees of different composers, both Ukrainian and foreign, is an appropriate moment to teach students valuable facts necessary for their major and revise reading rules that have always been the big problem for English learners.

In a context of globalization of the European economies, the information and communication technologies, it is essential for our students to be able to acquire new knowledge, skills and to be competitive. Another aim of the teachers is to help learners to assume an active and creative relationship with their professional social environment.

Teaching studentsmusicians professional English, we try to cover different fields of music art: rehearsals, concerts, competitions, workshops, studio recording,jam sessions. It is important to organize teaching professional English through different language activities, such as reading, listening, speaking, writing.

We offer our students listening materials including performances of famous musicians, workshops or interviews with outstanding people of the musical warehouse etc. Then the students are asked to absorb the material and write the main ideas about what they have listened to.

For example, the students listen about the lives and music of the most influential blues musicians Bessie Smith, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, В. B. King [10; 11].

It's very important for musicians to take part in international music events. We encourage the students to look for announcements on such events, fill in participants' application forms, write the programs of their performances.

During the lessons we give the students definitions of some terms. Students develop their oral skills by explaining terms in English. For example:

chord a combination of notes played at the same time;

gospel music a style of religious music heard in some black churches. Many blues singers came out of the gospel music tradition;

horn section the part of a band containing the wind instruments, usually saxophones, trumpets and trombones; jam to improvise with other musicians;

soul a genre of American music that contains expressive vocals and strong rhythmic backbeats.

Another important communicative exercise for improving oral skills is a dialogue. The students have to make and express heir opinions. The task of the dialogue speech is to use special terms, express wishes and respond to them. In groups the students discuss the questions:

do you know the lyrics of songs in English?

did you ever download film soundtracks? If so, which one?

think of a song you like, is it a solo, a duet or a group?

The speech of a monologue helps our students to master such kinds of monologues reports, descriptions, stories, presentations. While the students begin preparing a presentation, we help them to define interesting topics. After the topic has been discussed, we ask the students to note the points they are going to dwell upon. They can use several methods free writing, making a plan. After the students are ready with their presentations the teachers check the language with them (grammar, vocabulary, style). It is important for the teacher not only to correct students' mistakes, but to make the correction process mutual. Then the students are given possibility to make presentations before the group.

The students then prepare Microsoft PowerPoint presentation at home. It may concern creative activity of different composers and performers with the examples of their works. Our students will try to speak on the topic before the audience and feel the atmosphere of speaking in public. The questions given to them by their group mates will help them to see unclear points and show what should be changed or added.

It is important to concentrate their attention on the ways of encouraging interaction through classroom activities in one of the four traditional language skills reading. Reading is a oneway communication, that is why interactive activities designed for the studentsmusicians are very important in teaching for communicative competence while reading special texts.

Working on special texts we begin by skimming the material to locate main ideas and to teach students to guess the meaning of a word from the context.

To increase students' potential comprehension we try to do a variety of prereading activities that build background knowledge.

Developing students' reading skills we ask them to draw inference from the title of the text; make use of all information in the paragraph to comprehend unfamiliar words; try to understand the meaning of a word by the syntax of the sentence; reread purposefully to check comprehension.

We try to select appropriate reading material and help students to interact with texts and their classmates while they discuss the material they have read or are in the process of reading. The students are given a chance to set their own comprehension questions. This is a good opportunity for real learnerled communication.

In the recent past writing was one of the most ignored of the language skills. But this attitude towards the role of writing in teaching a foreign language has changed.

Writing has now become very important in professional foreign language curriculum. There is every reason it should be naturally writing for the students' reflection on their speaking, listening and reading experience. When students are not focused on a grammatical error, when instead they think they express their thoughts freely, they develop confidence and a sense of power over the language. Our students write about what they are interested in and know about, what they really want to communicate about.

We try to provide our students with the techniques necessary to write essays and correspondence in English. They are taught to differentiate the topic sentence from supporting sentences and the thesis.

Songs are a fantastic way to help students work on different elements of language learning. There are many different ways to use songs in the classroom, from singalongs to more structured listening exercises, depending on the class you have and the goals you have in mind. A more structured exercise will take a bit longer to prepare, but it'll be far more helpful for the students. Ideas for structured exercises will depend on the grammar points you're trying to teach, but they can include fillintheblank exercises, writing exercises to continue the song or even creating adaptations of the song with new words.

Whatever you decide to do with the song you choose, scientists agreemusic offers loads of benefits to language learners. The first step is to choose a song, which can seem daunting at first. After all, we have a wide variety to choose from. We can choose 9 different songs adapted to different levels of ESL students. We must be sure that songs are written in a grammatically correct way and that highlight certain key vocabulary or grammar points in their lyrics. That being said, advanced students can take full advantage of their favourite songs as well. As students to contribute their favourite songs for new class lessons. The only limit here is the imagination.

When using songs to teach beginners, repetition is key. Repetition in a song allows a beginner to catch on to what is being said or sung and then chime in by the end. We can choose songs with catchy refrains and repetitive structures to make sure beginners are getting the most of them.

As students move into the intermediate phase of their learning, they'll be ready to tackle more difficult topics with their songs, particularly grammar points. The good news for students is that they can use many songs that they're already familiar with to study these different grammar elements. Here are three choice songs for intermediate level students.

Teaching Point: Past Constructions

Use “Somebody that I Used to Know” or “Call Me Maybe” to review different past constructions with your students. Lyrics like the following allow them to think about which past tense is appropriate to use and why:

In order to use the songs in class, the most efficient way would be to make worksheets in advance with the lyrics typed out and the appropriate past construction removed. You can replace these removed past constructions with a blank, accompanied by the infinitive verb in parentheses. Students should fill in the correct answer. Once they've finished, verify answers using the recording as a dictation.

Teaching Point: Future Simple

The classic Beatles tune will have students using the future like pros soon enough. “All My Loving” uses the auxiliary will construction in the future fairly consistently, making it ideal for practicing this future form. We can make a worksheet, replacing future tense conjugated verbs with blanks and the infinitive verb in parentheses. This exercise is ideal to use with false beginners (beginners who have studied English before and forgotten) to remind them of the future tense, as well as for intermediate learners who just need a bit of practice. When you're teaching advanced learners, you can have a lot of fun using songs in the classroom.

Teaching Point: Verb Tense Review

By the time students have reached an advanced level, they'll usually have seen pretty much every verb tense there is but that doesn't mean they've mastered them all. “Counting Stars” is a fantastic way to do a general verb review using the same fillintheblank exercise we discussed above. The reason that this song is so perfect for this exercise is that “Counting Stars” features the past progressive (“I've been losing sleep”), future (“we'll be counting stars”), present, (“I see this life”), present progressive (“life swinging”) and that's alljust in the first two stanzas [12]. The only trouble with using this song in this exercise is that many of these verb choices are open to interpretation based on how the student understands the song--so turn it into a debate. Ask students to defend their choices, and they mayjust open up a new side to the song.

Teaching Point: Subjunctive

While advanced students will usually have seen quite a few different verb tenses in their day, they may have yet to encounter the subjunctive, and that's where “If I Were a Boy” comes in. We may use this song to introduce a lesson on the subjunctive, asking students what they think this mood implies in English. Once you've established the correct use of the subjunctive with your students, allow them to come up with their own “Ifl were..scenarios. You can either have them share these statements orally in class or use this inclass preparation for a takehome written production assignment. If it's the latter, it's up to you whether you want students to write a more formal essay or a song of their own.

Teaching Point: Gerunds

Gerunds are something that students first encounter as beginners or intermediate learners, but advanced students can always use a good revision of gerund forms. Listening to the Beatles classic “Across the Universe” is a great place to get this review. Once you've done a gerund review, perhaps with a fillintheblank exercise, allow your students to delve further into the poetry of the song.

Advanced students will likely have a lot to say about the figurative language used by the songwriters and, for this reason, this song can also be an excellent way to delve into topics related to stylistic or figurative writing, culminating in a songwriting exercise for the entire class. Whether the students are writing their own songs or learning from the lyrics and music of others, we're sure that making the most of these songs in ESL classes will not only make the ESL classroom experience more fun, but more fruitful too.

So, in order to conclude it should be said that we try to use these techniques while teaching English to music majors. It helps them to master English in the most effective way. Students with high level of English are more competitive in their future professional activity. The knowledge of English widens their horizons, opens them the possibility to see the world and helps them to express themselves in it, to communicate with their peers, colleagues and establish themselves in the world of music and art.

The perspectives of investigation are: the possibility to encourage students' writing their own scripts devoted to different holidays both in our country and in the Englishspeaking world, participating in exchange programmes for students using innovative technologies, preparing their own presentations.


1. Чечель Є.Г. Англійська мова для вищих навчальних мистецьких закладів / Є.Г. Чечель, Н.П. Чечель. Вінниця : НОВА КНИГА, 2011.455 с.

2. Murphey Т. Music and Song. / Т. Murphy. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2000. 151p.

3. Arts Glossary English Ukrainian Russian (Глосарій мистецьких термінів англо українськоросійський) / укл. В.В. Михайленко, Т.В. Суродейкіна. Чернівці : Рута, 2002. С. 4366.

4. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians : on 20 vol. / ed.

S. Sadie 2nd Macmillan, 1995.

5. Донченко E.H. Английский язык для студентов нетехнических факультетов / Е.Н. Донченко, О.А. Снеговая. РостовнаДону : Феникс, 2005. С. 175187.

6. Мансі Є.О. English: Тексти : [підручник для студентів гуманітарних, природничогеографічних і математичних факультетів вищих навчальних закладів] / Є.О. Мансі. К. : Видавничий центр «Академія», 2004. С. 197228.

7. Павленко В.В. Словник іноземних музичних термінів та виразів : [навчальний посібник для вищих навчальних закладів культури і мистецтв I--IV рівнів акредитації] / В.В. Павленко. Вінниця : НОВА КНИГА, 2005. 384 с.

8. Миштал М. Тематические тесты по английскому языку / М. Миштал /К.: Знания, 2004. С. 267271.

9. Кипшидзе A.M. English reader for musical institutes. Книга для чтения по английскому языку для музыкальных вузов : [учебное пособие] / А.М. Кипшидзе. М. : Высшая школа, 1974. 112 с.

10. Santelli R. The Big Book of Blues / R. Santelli. New York : Penguin Books, 1993. 160 p.

11. It's Biscuit Time on the Blues Web [Електронний ресурс]. Режим доступу : http://www.island.net/~blues/.

12. Songs for teaching Web [Електронний ресурс]. Режим доступу : http:/www. wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn.

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