Rhythm of the language is crucial if you want to speak fluently. And what’s better to learn a rhythm if not implementing in in the class? One may think playing with rhythm is something only the youngest students will enjoy, but recently I’ve discussed this topic and I want to share some ideas even the most adult and mature students will find amusing.
Provided you, as a teacher, enjoy it, of course 🙂
I myself remember chants as slightly boring (dreadful one potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, four, five potatoes, six potatoes, seven potatoes more), but you can add a little bit of zest to it and create your own chants, or even better – engage your students into creating them!
In one of my favourite board games, Mystery of the Abbey (perfect for EFL classes, if you enjoyed Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, you’ll love it!), there is a card that makes all the players chant literally everything they want to say, and as the plot is set in a medieval monastery, the chant is supposed to resemble church chants. Now, people I’ve played with forget the winners, the plot and the rules, but they never forget chants.
What I mean, pick a simple tune and make your own chant. It may a list of irregular verbs to the tune of Baby Shark – something your students would find amusing (silly, but not too silly). And maybe, one day, they’ll turn out to be new Al Yankovic?
You can find more on jazz chants on onestopenglish.com
We Will Rock You
One of the scenes in the new film Bohemian Rhapsody shows pretty much what the power of rhythm is about:
I’m sure if you start the beat, pretty much everyone will know which song it is. You can use it in your classroom as a warm-up activity, but you can do more than that. For example, give the rhythm while reading key vocabulary for the lesson and ask your students to repeat after you to the same rhythm pattern. Then change the pattern to a quicker one, asking them to catch up, then slow down.
You may ask one student to give a pattern while the rest of the group follows it repeating the words. If it’s too easy, prompt another student to change the beat so the group has to readjust.
This way will help you not only make your students remember the words better (connecting word repetition with rhythm boosts long-term memory), but also help them open up a bit. It’s easier to repeat the words with others, especially when you have fun at the same time! This is a big step for all those shy students who are afraid of speaking aloud – if you practice speaking with others, in a friendly atmosphere, it will be a great encouragement to start speaking on their own.
Clap! And stomp! And shake it! Learning a language comes with mistakes, sometimes embarrassing – and it’s important to create an atmosphere of fun, where all the students can feel safe and free to make silly mistakes. Make them move a bit, so that they relax, clapping and stomping while repeating vocabulary is a nice idea.
The process of learning a new things is a very childlike experience, and usually adult learners want to seem serious, dedicated and focused. Engaging them into activities requiring using body language releases tension and makes people more open. They may feel quite embarrassed at first, but after a while they will feel more relaxed.
As to children and teens, it’s a great idea to include some body language while listening to songs or repeating vocabulary – they need movement and some jumping and stomping will be a great activity for them.
If you want to read more about the rhythm of English, try this article on fluentu.com.