Using music to teach French

Using music to teach French

If you haven’t tried using music to teach French, you are missing out! Many students struggle with language learning, but music can make the process easier and even enjoyable. Using popular music to learn a language is an effective way to pick up new vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar in a fun and interactive way. From listening to music with lyrics you understand to singing along with songs in the target language, music is a powerful tool for learning any language.

Why using music to teach French is effective

Using music in language classes can provide a fun and engaging way for students to learn. Listening to music with familiar lyrics in the target language can provide an enjoyable experience that helps learners absorb information. Similarly, singing along with songs can help develop pronunciation and intonation skills. Music provides a great opportunity for simple repetition of words and grammar structures, which assists with memorization. While students may not always be excited about studying for their language classes, a great song will often find its way onto a student’s playlist where they will learn the lyrics with little effort.

Music can also be used as an introduction into the culture surrounding a language, providing insights into cultural values, trends and styles which may shape conversations between natives of different countries or regions that speak similar languages. While many students have the impression that French is a language used mainly by (white) French people in France, sharing videos from around the Francophone world will change this impression to a more accurate one based on the reality of la Francophonie.

Ideas for using music to teach French

There are several ways that using music can be very effective in your classes. I use it to teach specific concepts such as verb conjugations. While CI classes often avoid using verb charts and practicing conjugations, I find that a simple song can be really helpful for some students. I have a song that I use for ER verbs and they learn it very quickly – and it does come in handy for pop-up grammar when I want to point out an ending in a story or reading. And of course, Etienne’s avoir song is a classic that is played in many classrooms around the world!

Sometimes a song is just perfect as a way to reinforce something you have been doing in class. The song “Tombé” by M. Pokora is a great one when you want to reinforce verbs that use être in the past tense – what student will have trouble remembering how to say “I fell” after listening to this song? I play the song “Chuis bo” pretty early in French 1 so students can get “je suis” stuck in their heads. And the song Outété by Keen’V is a great example of the imparfait, especially when combined with Stromae’s Formidable. all of these songs are catchy and appealing to students.

Using music in yearly events

Music can bring people together, and there are a couple of yearly events that make using music a no-brainer! Your students will enjoy the songs, but also the competition aspect of these events – and some students may get REALLY into it!

The first of the events is the Manie Musicale. It is a contest between 16 songs from around the Francophone world. The winner of each match-up between two songs is determined by popular vote. Students and teachers around the world make their brackets before the beginning of the contest and then the big reveal videos are done every couple of days. In the 2023 contest, many of the artists involved truly got involved, doing concerts and responding to messages from teachers and students. The Manie has grown over the past few years and involves students from all over the world.

The second big event is Eurovision. France is only one of the countries in the competition, but you can easily use French to discuss the format of the contest and the different songs. I have my students share their opinions of which songs are good and which ones are bad, and we read about the contest as a class. Again, students may get VERY attached to their chosen songs! You can also read the many thousands of Tweets in French before, during and after the contest as a great way to introduce more authentic resources.

In summary, using music is an incredibly effective wat to boost language learning progress in a fun and enjoyable way!

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