Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Presenting New Language Through Music and Mime, Rhythm and Rhyme – Report on Charles Goodger’s Session

Charles Goodger gave a really lively and full of creativity presentation in this year’s TESOL Macedonia-Thrace’s 23rd Annual International Conference. In the beginning of the presentation we had to learn a song by dancing and rhyming, a method with excellent results since we learnt a whole song in only a few minutes. The rhythm of the songs was lively and the miming was really creative and everyone attending had a great time doing the different dances. 

Mr Goodger talked afterwards about action songs and he stressed the parallel between notes and phonemes. He talked about the combined intelligences involved in action songs and about the Total Physical Response (T.P.R.) method to language learning developed by James Asher. The main purpose is of course the Permanent Memory Acquisition (P.M.A.) and action songs are excellent means to that end. 

But what are the characteristics of successful action songs? Mr Goodger explained that for an action song to be successful it has to have sticky tunes. The music should stay in the mind of the learner and be repeated unconsciously. It has to have strong rhythms and be lively. A very important thing is the appropriateness of the themes. Here Mr Goodger stressed that pop songs for example that talk about love, relationships and other similar issues are not suitable for young learners. Also, when teachers decide to use an action song in their lesson they should be careful of the core language which should not be too advanced compared to the student’s current level. The actions demonstrated should be expressive and students must be allowed to mime them. 

Afterwards, Mr Goodger went on to talk about how we can integrate action songs into the teaching programme. First, as he said teachers should identify the vocabulary fields and the lexical areas that are the focus of the lesson. Secondly, they have to understand the cognitive potential of their class and not choose a song of a very high level or activities that are very demanding. Therefore, teachers should select carefully the worksheet tasks and plan the module to be taught thoroughly.

To be effective action songs must be fun. Only this way the affective filter is lower and learning takes place. They should be motivating and memorable. They have to be catchy and make students want to learn them. They should be useful because they are used to teach something and not just for fun purposes. Finally, the choreography must be well- prepared. 

The action songs modules should be easy to use and not have complicated instructions. They should teach core vocabulary, keeping in mind the appropriacy of the level of the class and they should be performed and not just heard or watched from a video.

The audience really enjoyed Mr Goodger’s presentation and found very useful ideas on how to use songs more effectively in their teaching.

Report and photos by Emmanuel Kontovas

An interview with Charles Goodger by Dimitra Christopoulou