Teaching English as a Second Language through Rap Music

February 5, 2015


For Students

Did you know that rock, rap and pop music could be used as a teaching & learning tool? This doesn’t mean you have to stand in front of your class belting out the rules of reading, writing and arithmetic either. 

Educators, teachers, and school administrators can all use music as a way to reach students and make learning more fun, interactive, and memorable. Music can even be used very effectively as a tool in whole brain learning and multicultural learning.

Perhaps the most exciting part about music in the classroom is that it can be used as both a teaching & learning tool. Both uses are effective for teachers and students alike.

Read more at: http://www.teachhub.com/using-rap-rock-pop-music-teach

A great example of using rap in the classroom is from colloandspark.com. For a complete list of irregular verbs, visit English Club.

If you like this, you should visit eslhiphop.com for lots of lessons based on HipHop songs.

For Teachers

Teaching methodology for English language learners has changed radically. Just as general teaching practice has moved from teacher centered activities to student centered activities, ESL teaching practice has moved from memorizing lists of decontextualized vocabulary (Audio Linguistic Method) to learning vocabulary that is embedded in context. Also grammar that was once explained with extended definitions of structures and forms (Direct Method) is now often taught inductively and communicatively. Methods that traditionally emphasized correcting usage and pronunciation of words have been replaced with communicatively focused methods. All of these developments have created better language teaching strategies, but there is still need for language learning approaches that teach grammar, vocabulary, prosody and other language skills without contrived and artificial content exercises. Instead, content should be introduced in authentic and natural ways. Although emphasis has shifted to communicative approaches, many of the methods of teaching speaking and listening are unappealing to students and should be taught in ways which are relevant and interesting.

Since Gardner (2006) first introduced the multiple intelligence (MI) theory, many educators have tried to apply his theory to improve teaching practice. Teaching to musical intelligence has proven to be effective in helping students learn English, yet there is little curriculum to help teachers incorporate using music in teaching English as an additional language. Therefore, students are often deprived of opportunities to use their musical intelligence for learning. Moreover, though the emphasis on communicative approaches of learning a second language have brought a plethora of new strategies, teachers and students alike still need interesting curriculum that is based on educationally sound theories. They need curriculum that is relevant to students and that creates an environment which is conducive to learning. The Rapping English curriculum fills the gap of materials needed to incorporate music in curriculum without requiring teachers to have musical knowledge or preparation. It is a curriculum that is high interest and that is based on sound educational theory.

Gardner (2006) completed his multiple intelligence (MI) theory in 1980 which had a significant impact on educational practice. He claimed education traditionally favored teaching to linguistic or logical mathematic intelligences, but that teaching to more intelligences improves student learning. He recommended using a multiple intelligence approach to teaching a topic. In this way, more students could learn because there would be more of a chance of approaching a topic in accordance with students’ dominant intelligences. Additionally, students develop a better and fuller understanding of a topic when it is explored using multimodalities. Finally, neural networks which produce long-term memory are activated when several areas of the brain are stimulated by targeting different intelligences.

Top 25 Useful Phrasal Verbs

January 29, 2015

Here’s a quick list of some common Phrasal Verbs you may come across in English. If you find quick poster guides useful in your language learning, you can visit timsbox.net for more…


FUN FACTS: England

January 23, 2015
Hey, travellers out there! Did you know these seven interesting facts about England?


1. England has a large population for its size. It has almost three times the population of Australia and California, but is actually fifty-nine times smaller than Australia and seventy-four times smaller than the United States of America.
2. The English consume the most tea compared to any other people in the world. It’s estimated that their tea consumption is twenty-two times greater than the tea consumption of Americans and the French, and more than three times the consumption of the Japanese.
3. The Windsor Castle of England is the oldest royal residence that is still in use.
4. During the medieval period, even animals were put on trial for the “bad deeds” they committed. They were even punished and sentenced to death once they were proven guilty of their crimes.
5. Beer was a common accompaniment to the medieval English breakfast.
6. Around 1600, the world’s first ever hot-chocolate store (something like a coffee shop) started operating in London.
7. French used to be England’s national language from 1066 up until 1362. England’s national motto, “Dieu et mon droit,” is a French statement that means “God and my right.”

Having trouble learning English? Do it like the stars!

June 30, 2014

Many of Hollywood’s finest non-native speaking actors have had to learn English fast after realising that they were destined for movie stardom stateside. With this need to master fluent English to seize the opportunities of fame and fortune that Hollywood offers, it is no surprise that they have the inside scoop on some of the most efficient tricks to mastering English quickly.

Watching films

Before Charlize Theron was in the movies herself, she would watch hundreds of them, and used this method to learn English the fast way. Charlize, who is originally from South Africa, spoke mostly in her native language of Afrikaans until the age of 19 when she learnt fluent English and headed for Hollywood. She became fluent in English at around 19 years old and has stated that watching American TV shows and movies was vital. Watching films and TV is an extremely good way to learn English, for a number of reasons.

Foreign language films are often accompanied by subtitles. This is very useful as it is easier to read a new language than it is to understand it in free flowing speech. By listening to the spoken version and associating it with the subtitles, it is easier to create a link between the sound of the word and its written form. TV shows and movies also help people to learn current terms and slang, as this is not taught in classrooms. This is particularly helpful for actors, who must often play characters with a rough street background.

French actress, Melanie Laurent said in a recent interview that she had to watch Gossip Girl on repeat in order to pick up English quickly as she had lied on her CV stating she was fluent in English. After landing roles alongside the likes of Brad Pitt (Inglorious Basterds) one would have to say it proved effective!

Language tandem

Language tandem is often used when people must learn a language rapidly and is a tactic that Mexican actress Salma Hayek utilized when she moved to Hollywood early in her career. Language tandem is when two people meet up regularly so as they can each practice the language they wish to learn. For example, a French person who has just started to learn English could meet with an English person who has just begun to talk French. This will usually involve half of the conversation being in French and the other half in English so as both parties are given a chance to practice their non-native language.

The technique proved effective for Hayek as she went on to secure English speaking roles in blockbusters such as From Dusk ‘til Dawn, Wild Wild West and many others.

‘Method acting’ and surrounding yourself with native speakers

By far the fastest way to learn a new language is to go to the country and surround yourself with native speakers. Many people, including Hollywood’s elite, have found this to be the best method. For actors in particular, the need to use authentic sounding slang means that immersing themselves in the language is the only way. Actors have often talked about spending days in character, perhaps speaking and moving the same way they expect their characters to. This practical approach is far more effective than any other method.

‘Method acting’ is the label for a group of techniques widely used by Hollywood actors in order to better immerse themselves in a character role they are working on. Typically, when using ‘method acting’ techniques, an actor will continue to portray their character role outside of actual filming. Quite simply, they become their character 24 hours a day, thinking and behaving like them.

This technique can be utilized for English language learning also. By imagining yourself as a native speaker and going about your day using only English and not your native tongue you can rapidly increase your progression.

Mastering a native accent or dialect

Adopting the native accent or dialect in which you are using your English skills in most often can be beneficial for many reasons. It is very common to see actors portraying specific roles in which they must adopt a regional dialect that is different from their own. For example, we regularly see Hollywood actors from the United States playing roles as British characters and vice versa.

Many actors in Hollywood hire accent consultants who work with them to help them master the correct diction for the role they are playing. Whilst that is not an option for most of us, we can benefit by watching films, interviews and listening to radio that is representative of the accent we are trying to adopt. Youtube can be a great resource for this.

Final word

Speaking is an integral part of the role of an actor and we can find a lot of useful ideas and inspiration from the language methods adopted by Hollywood. Try adopting some of these tactics to your everyday use of English and you could see a measured improvement in your command of the language.

Source: http://www.english-magazine.org/english-reading/english-language-articles/2244-language-article-learn-english-hollywood

Who are you in the classroom? The Physical (Bodily-Kinesthetic) Learner

June 18, 2014

If the physical style is more like you, it’s likely that you use your body and sense of touch to learn about the world around you. It’s likely you like sports and exercise, and other physical activities such as gardening or woodworking. You like to think out issues, ideas and problems while you exercise. You would rather go for a run or walk if something is bothering you, rather than sitting at home.

You are more sensitive to the physical world around you. You notice and appreciate textures, for example in clothes or furniture. You like ‘getting your hands dirty,’ or making models, or working out jigsaws.

You typically use larger hand gestures and other body language to communicate. You probably don’t mind getting up and dancing either, at least when the time is right. You either love the physical action of theme park rides, or they upset your inner body sense too much and so you avoid them altogether.

When you are learning a new skill or topic, you would prefer to ‘jump in’ and play with the physical parts as soon as possible. You would prefer to pull an engine apart and put it back together, rather than reading or looking at diagrams about how it works.

The thought of sitting in a lecture listening to someone else talk is repulsive. In those circumstances, you fidget or can’t sit still for long. You want to get up and move around.

Common Pursuits and Phrases

Pursuits that involve the physical style include general physical work, mechanical, construction and repair work, sports and athletics, drama and dancing.

You may tend to use phrases like these:

  • That feels right to me.
  • I can’t get a grip on this’
  • Stay in touch.
  • Get in touch with’
  • That doesn’t sit right with me.
  • I have good feelings about this.
  • My gut is telling me’
  • I follow your drift.

Learning and techniques

  • If you use a physical style, use touch, action, movement and hands-on work in your learning activities. For visualization, focus on the sensations you would expect in each scenario. For example, if you are visualizing a tack (turn) on a sailboat, focus on physical sensations. Feel the pressure against your hand as you turn the rudder, and the tension lessening on the ropes. Feel the wind change to the other side, feel the thud as the sail swaps with the wind, and feel the boat speed up as you start the new leg.
  • For assertions and scripting, describe the physical feelings of your actions. For example, a pilot might script as follows: ‘I feel the friction as I push the throttle forward to start my takeoff run. The controls start to feel more responsive as I check the airspeed, oil pressure and temperature. At takeoff speed, I pull back slightly, and I feel the vibrations of the wheels stop as the plane leaves the ground. After a few moments, I reach down and set the gear selector to up. I feel the satisfying bump as the gear stops fully up.’


  • Use physical objects as much as possible. Physically touch objects as you learn about what they do. Flashcards can help you memorize information because you can touch and move them around.
  • Keep in mind as well that writing and drawing diagrams are physical activities, so don’t neglect these techniques. Perhaps use big sheets of paper and large color markers for your diagrams. You then get more action from the drawing.
  • Use breathing and relaxation to focus your state while you learn and perform. Focus on staying calm, centered, relaxed and aware. If you want to gain more control over your physical state, look up some references on Autogenics. This was a secret behind the great Russian athletic performances over the past few decades.
  • Use role-playing, either singularly or with someone else, to practice skills and behaviors. Find ways to act out or simulate what you are learning.

Who are you in the classroom? The Verbal (Linguistic) Learner

June 11, 2014

The verbal style involves both the written and spoken word. If you use this style, you find it easy to express yourself, both in writing and verbally. You love reading and writing. You like playing on the meaning or sound of words, such as in tongue twisters, rhymes, limericks and the like. You know the meaning of many words, and regularly make an effort to find the meaning of new words. You use these words, as well as phrases you have picked up recently, when talking to others.

Common pursuits and phrases

Pursuits that use the verbal style include public speaking, debating, politics, writing and journalism.

You may tend to use phrases like these:

  • Tell me word for word
  • Let’s talk later.
  • The word you’re looking for is
  • I hear you but I’m not sure I agree.
  • Let me spell it out for you.
  • In other words

Learning and techniques

  • If you are a verbal learner, try the techniques that involve speaking and writing. Find ways to incorporate more speaking and writing in techniques. For example, talk yourself through procedures in the simulator, or use recordings of your content for repetition.
  • Make the most of the word-based techniques such as assertions and scripting. Use rhyme and rhythm in your assertions where you can, and be sure to read important ones aloud. Set some key points to a familiar song, jingle or theme.
  • Mnemonics are your friends for recalling lists of information. Acronym mnemonics use words, focusing on the first letter of the word to make up another word or memorable sequence. You can also make up phrases using the items you want to memorize.
  • Scripting is also powerful for you. You don’t just have to write them down. Record your scripts using a tape or digital audio recorder (such as an MP3 player), and use it later for reviews.
  • When you read content aloud, make it dramatic and varied. Instead of using a monotone voice to go over a procedure, turn it into a lively and energetic speech worthy of the theatre. Not only does this help your recall, you get to practice your dramatic presence!
  • Try working with others and using role-playing to learn verbal exchanges such as negotiations, sales or radio calls.

Source: http://www.learning-styles-online.com/style/verbal-linguistic/

Football Basics!

June 9, 2014


Soccer is a ball game played by two teams. The ball is advanced with the feet, that’s why the sport is also called football. As not to confuse it with other variants of football, e.g. American football, rugby, or Gaelic football, the official name of this sport is association football (after the London Football Association). But English native speakers usually just call it soccer, football, footie, footy or footer.

Basic rules

Object: The object is to score goals.

Players: Each team has 11 players:

  • a goalkeeper (also called goalie) who tries to block the shots by the opposing team
  • the fullbacks (defense) who try to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals
  • the halfbacks (or midfielders) who play both offense and defense
  • the forwards (or strikers) who try to score goals for their team

Duration: The game is played in two halves of 45 minutes each. At halftime the teams change ends.

Playing: Except for the goalie and at throw ins, players must not(i) touch the ball with their hands or arms. They can, however, use any other part of the body.

Scoring: A goal is scored when the ball has crossed the goal line between the posts and under the crossbar.

Field: This is what a soccer field looks like.


The Field:
centre circle
centre line
penalty mark
penalty area
goal area
goal line
The Match:
first league
final whistle
corner kick
throw in
penalty kick
dropped ball
bicycle kick
free kick
extra time
The Team
opposing team
starting lineup
defending champions
Other vocabulary:
That was a goal!
Come on, kick a goal!
Pass the ball!
Which team do you support?
What’s the score?
Who’s winning?
It’s 2-1 for ManU.
They’re still tying.
It’s a draw.
The match was tied./The match ended in a draw.
He was sent off.
The ball is out of bounds/out of play.


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