Academic journal article The Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education

Teaching Grammar through Music

Academic journal article The Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education

Teaching Grammar through Music

Article excerpt

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1 Introduction

"Grammar is a process for making a speaker's or writer's meaning clear when contextual information is lacking." (Thornbury 2002: 4). The same author also defines grammar as "a description of the rules for forming sentences, including an account of the meaning that these forms convey" (Thornbury 2002: 13).

Learning a foreign language is a complicated and demanding task which sometimes can be demotivating and frustrating. Constant effort is needed in order to understand and produce the target language. As Penny Ur states: "there is no doubt that a knowledge - implicit or explicit - of grammatical rules is essential for the mastery of a language: you cannot use words unless you know how they should be put together." (Ur 2006: 4). Teachers have always found grammar demanding and difficult to teach, but students need to be proficient in order to be successful in standardized tests (such as KET, FCE, and CAE) and college entrance exams, and also in their improvement of the communication skills. Children have an amazing ability to absorb language through play, music, jokes or anything which they can find enjoyable.

This paper deals with music used to teach grammar, since grammar has an important place in the classroom and students always fount grammar difficult to understand. The objective of the work is to measure the effectiveness of using songs to teach grammar.

2 Literature Review

English is with no doubt a universal language. English is not an official language in most European countries, but it is the language most taught as a second language in schools. English is most widely used in communication around the world.

Teaching foreign languages in Romania was a dramatic process that depended on the very history of the country and bore the mark of the succeeding leading ideologies. In order to understand the present status of education in Romania, we have to look back and analyse its past. In 1966 Romania introduced the teaching of the first foreign language (English, French, German, Russian) in the second grade and the second foreign language in the sixth grade. (Cunita, Popa, Draghicescu, Dorobat 1997: 16, Iatcu 2005). The system functioned well until 1978 when the idea of early foreign language learning was dropped. During the communist period, Russian was the main language taught in Romania and German was the second most common. In the 1980's, due to the politics of the communist party, not only English was on the verge of extinction.

Nowadays, all schools in Romania have foreign language programs and students must study two foreign languages. The first foreign language should be studied at an advanced level and the second one at a more basic level. In some cases there are more than two foreign languages available to study and the student can choose from several. Many schools offer bilingual courses.

Nowadays, the top language taught in our country is English, according to the results of 2008's "Key Data on Teaching Languages at Schools in Europe" published by The Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Modern languages are taught from the third grade, at the age of nine. In the fifth grade, when pupils are eleven, the second foreign language is introduced. Pupils continue to study both of the languages until they finish school, at the age of eighteen or nineteen.

The study of grammar in Romanian schools is still considered important, and despite vast attempts at transforming the language teaching/learning process into an exclusively communicative one, devoid of specialist grammar metalanguage, both teacher and students feel that grammar still has its role in the classroom.

The Longman Exam Dictionary offers a definition of grammar as "the rules by which words change their forms and are combined into sentences, or the study of these rules". As we can see, two basic elements of grammar are involved in this definition - the rules and the study of the rules. …

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