Using Songs in the French Classroom

Songs in the French classroom can be powerful learning tools. For students, they provide an easy, natural way to learn new words and phrases. The melody provides a way to recall words easily and, of course, the entire experience of learning a song is more memorable than is learning stale, rote exercises from a book. Instructors can use the material learned in songs in creative ways to help students reinforce what has been learned and to make sure that the new material is understood in addition to being memorized.

After students learn French songs, they can be quizzed on the content of those songs. In many cases, songs will use slightly different phrasings for common thoughts and ideas compared to what would be used in a book. These provide a way for students to learn how the language is spoken naturally and they can be quizzed on those items to help them hang onto that new knowledge for the long term. You’ll find that students can more readily recall material they learned along with a melody than they can other materials. Incorporating stories into the lessons can also be very helpful.

Stories provide a great way to learn French fast. When reviewing the material, rather than just asking how to say this or that, instructors can ask about specific parts of the story. For instance, you might ask students what happened to one character at the end of the story or what two of the characters were talking about during a specific scene. When you replay the story, students who didn’t catch what was going on the first time around will naturally work toward comprehending the action on the second listen and will quickly find themselves understanding more and more.

Teaching students to listen and learn French with a story or a song makes learning a language enjoyable. The technique works equally well for adults. As they hear the language spoken over and over, its rhythmus and structure will become apparent to the students without needing to teach them about it in the abstract. Native speakers can make a language come alive and their inflection and tone of voice can add a lot to a student’s understanding of a language. The reward for the student is eventually completely comprehending every word of the story, an important step toward attaining true fluency in the language.

Dr.Dennis Dunham has over 25 years in international education experience and is a co-creator of LanguageandLyrics.com, a website designed to help you learn French the right way. If you’ve tried every language product out there and haven’t made progress, visit LanguageandLyrics.com to see how learning French can be easy and fun.

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