I love using music in my classes and honestly I don’t think I can live without music and it is the same for my students.
Benefits of music in class:
When music is purposefully selected it can be powerful and could have some surprising benefits when incorporated at the right time in the classroom – it could help students with developing creativity and motivation but could also reduce the affective filter and improve the sense of classroom community (seriously we love to talk about and listen to music!). Changing the mood of a class is easier done with the help of music: I play calming music when I sense students (or myself) feel stressed; and more energetic music when we need to get moving and pick up the pace – I love to use a fast beat song such as the mission impossible theme song when doing competitions! If you like to read more about benefits of using music in class click Here and Here.
Using French music daily in class:
I incorporate music on a daily basis in my classes. It always plays in the background, unless I am talking, reading out loud or explaining a concept, then I will completely lower the volume until I’m done talking. Here is how I use music in class:
- to create a calming atmosphere: as soon as students enter class music already plays in the background;
- to signal transitions from one activity to the next;
- for paired activities so students feel more comfortable talking and sharing ideas – they don’t feel as if everyone is listening to them;
- for brain breaks (especially during the last quarter of school with La Manie Musicale ~ one of our favorite activities ~ AND nursery rhymes / children’s songs sung with gestures or with some type of movements => check this out Cecile Laine’s blog post on songs for elementary students! it’ s a list in progress);
- for different rituals (Fridays we always start with Lorie c’est le Week-end! Students sing along and will call on me if I forget to play the song);
- to simply discuss in the TL about how we like the song, what the mood of the song is, how does it make us feel, and what is the message;
- to sneak in more language with our song of the week (see below) because the song is very catchy and students will learn certain structures quickly;
- to go with a theme, to make more connections, to reinforce the topic or see a different perspective;
- to use as a “hook” for a lesson, topic, novel or story that’s coming up;
- to make connections and comparisons on the different cultures – what are other teenagers listening to? What are the ‘latest’ top songs, artists, etc. in the Francophone world? My students always share with me what French songs they like and are currently listening to!
Looking for French music:
I am constantly on the look out for new French songs with a strong positive message. To find the latest songs I look at various Francophone countries top music charts. I also love to use SPOTIFY and follow a few of the top singers. Pictures of my classes favorite singers are displayed on the wall as well. On Spotify I follow this playlist: “Fréquence Hits“: it always plays the latest French songs and I am often able to find the perfect ones for my classes from that playlist. (I have a long commute to work!) I have also created a playlist of French songs we use in my classes; it’s called FRENCH CLASS 🇫🇷 : (not very original but to the point: songs for French class – if you want to follow there are over 9 hours of French songs for school 😉). I also use Yabla (but they don’t have the latest, newest songs – I kind of feel that it is a bit limited) and Lyricstraining. TV5 monde has fantastic resources and activities to go with the songs.
Ideas to implement a song of the week:
Besides constantly playing music in the background for reasons mentioned above, I also like to incorporate a song of the week (or every other week) to focus on as a class. Here is what I usually do:
- MONDAY: Listen: I play the song at the very beginning of classes: just relax and enjoy! (I play the song all week and the first song of class is the song of the week – I write the name of the singer and the title of the song on the board and leave it there all week – or I ask student to record the info in their notes).
- TUESDAY: Picture Talk and Comprehensible Article: I show a picture of the singer and talk about him/her: who he/she is and what messages are found in their songs. I also like to follow this with a comprehensible article or short power point presentation about the singers (for the power point presentation I like to do just a 10 sentence comprehensible text about the singer: a picture of the singer and 10 lines about them).
- WEDNESDAY: Comprehensible Lyrics: Discussing the lyrics and making them “more comprehensible” to students is another activity we enjoy doing – students love listening to music but often times get upset because they don’t understand the meaning of the song; making the text more comprehensible either by summarizing the text in a more comprehensible way and in chunks using embedded reading or translating parts of it will help! Students could also be asked to do specific tasks as they follow the song along (lyrics can be printed or projected on the board now on YouTube they have the video with lyrics only, so that might be a good option) for example: taking notes of some cognates they recognize in the text or specific synonyms or antonyms asked by the teacher ahead of time.
- THURSDAY: Lyrics activities: After discussing the lyrics of the song and making them “more comprehensible” to my students, I usually do an activity with those lyrics: (here are some ideas I have done in the past, in no particular order and we tent to just do one of them) (1) put the refrain back in order (running dictation style; cutting strips of papers with different parts of the lyrics put in an enveloppe – this creates manipulatives for students to put back in order; sentences of part of the lyrics in different order and simply asking students to put the correct number next to each sentence, …) (2) tally how many times a certain word/structure is repeated (without the lyrics in front of us) – (3) fill in the blanks using a word bank (reading the text and making logical choices; then listening for corrections) – (4) listen and draw the main idea / message – (5) someone had shared this great activity with hidden poems in the lyrics of the song => students blackout the sentences they won’t need for their poems, then they draw something representing the poem – (6) creating comic strips using simplified sentences of the lyrics of the song , … Do you have more ideas?
- FRIDAY: Movie Talk: if appropriate, I show the video clip and movie talk it. I also like to have my students rank the song and video clip by writing a review to express their opinions on the song and the video clip, what part of the video clip they liked best or why don’t they like the song – this is also our ticket out the door. The video clip could also be the start of a new story! If the video clip is not available, singing together karaoke style or either creating a video clip or new dance choreography for the song could be lots of fun!
Those ideas can take a few minutes up to an entire class period – depending on how the classes react or not to the song 🙂 The different daily activities could also be combined into two or three days instead of a week – especially if you don’t want to take the entire week to do this! I can easily incorporate them in class and this process has worked well for me: students are exposed to some culture and often times go home and download the songs!!!Are you looking for more ideas? Check out this blog post from Martina Bex!
March Music Madness:
Of course, my students ultimate favorite is the March Music Madness they can’t wait for this and it is usually the very first thing they inquire about at the beginning of the year !
***Check out my TPT store for a great positive song: Danser by Lisandro Cuxi*** You will find 5-day lesson plans (One week worth of bell work activities, a story, an article on Lisandro, the song and other activities that you can use as little or as much as you see fit in your own classes – the power point is also editable). Click HERE 🙂 I just want to thank the following teachers for proof reading the article and activities! Veronique Musengwa, Cecile Laine, and Theresa Delphonse ~ Merci Mille Fois Mesdames ❤