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20-03 Promoting Active Listening in Bilingual Schools Through Music

Children in bilingual schools who not only learn English as a second language, but also learn in English as well as in their first language, have a complex curriculum and therefore need to have highly developed listening skills. Often their attention is lost and they do not attend well to instructions or explanations. This may lead to poor performance academically and sometimes to frustration for teachers who must contend with curriculum time constraints. The use of music, movement, song and sound is a fun and effective way to gain attention, hold it and redirect it. This can be an effective way to teach vital listening skills. Songs can aid memory and the pronunciation of new words. Movement is a kinesthetic means of reinforcing memory and comprehension. Music and sound are powerful tools in the creation of a positive ethos in the classroom and can be used to signal particular activities and transitions.

We have implemented active listening activities with several classes of bilingual children. We have found these activities to be very effective, not only to improve listening and to create an exciting learning atmosphere wherein teacher and learners share an empathetic bond, but these ideas also work alongside other strategies to cultivate intrinsic motivation. Music has been used extensively to teach first and second languages. "It is currently a common practice to use songs in the classroom to support second language acquisition. The literature abounds with positive statements concerning music as a vehicle for first and second language acquisition.

However, We have found in my bilingual classroom that the students need to be enabled to actively listen due to the high demands placed upon them. They do not need the extra intellectual, left-brained strain of always forcing themselves to concentrate, but rather the enabling power of music alongside of kinesthetic activity to help them to focus. Music lowers the 'affective filter' . The affective filter can be described as a negative attitude towards learning caused by numerous personal factors in a student's life. When music lowers the affective filter it makes learning a fun and more natural activity, even in the intense conditions of bilingual schools. It also encourages 'active listening' and can also help students to tune into their teacher.

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