When an ESL classroom can be a musical feast!

Published on 29th June, 2010 in Global Bloggers by Patrick Talty

Picture the scene. My IELTS students have just completed a rigorous 90-minute Reading exam. The mood is low. What do you do? How about several renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ in several different languages? This scenario unfolded last week, for Asel, from Kazakhstan, whose birthday we celebrated. It got me pondering the influence of music in different cultures, and later that day, with my Vocabulary/Conversation class, we looked at Unit 3 of Global: Art & Music.

The opening pictures on page 30 ask students to use relevant language to give their opinion. They had lots to say! The Useful phrases on page 34 and the follow-up pair and group work were also a great success. This approach offers the teacher a great degree of flexibility with the language content and input. The Grammar on page 35: used to and didn’t use to were also exceptionally practical. The students found it really helpful, and we spent a lot of time practising the structure. We wrapped up the class with David Crystal’s engaging The Power of music on page 39. The students enjoyed this, and to my great interest had some surprising insights into using music as a form of therapy, and how they felt it was a great stress reliever. I play classical music every morning as my students arrive so I was especially happy to hear that. For homework, they had to write a review of a concert they had attended. The Preparing to write section on page 40 was very helpful in this. This unit worked a treat as it had so many different areas of interests. I highly recommend it.

One of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods is The Annex. It has a huge student population as it is located quite close to the University of Toronto. Our students often visit this area as it is an eclectic mix of shops, bookstores and general friendliness. It also has a shoe museum. Yes. You read it correctly! The Bata Shoe Museum traces the history of footwear throughout, well, history. It is worth a look if you are ever in Hogtown. (I shall explain this next time.) The Annex also contains Canada’s largest museum, the Royal Ontario Museum or the ROM as we call it here. It’s a great day out.

 The fun never stops here!

 Bye for now



  • Hi
    thanks for mentioning us in your web log! You may also want to know about the ESL resources the Bata Shoe Museum has made available on its web site: activities to be used before, during, or after a visit to the Museum
    http://www.batashoemuseum.ca/education under ‘ESL Groups’

    Roger Hunziker on 30 June, 2010
  • Ienjoy using them because they are extremely helpful grammar wise. They show in a well balanced manner composed time, conditionals, modals, etc. so as to explain to the students it function(s). Returning to rules etc places the story in its true version. The issues are up-to-date and this make for conversation, too

    Catherine on 23 July, 2010