Teaching Rap

I hadn’t planned on posting again this week, but this came up in my TESOL topic about pronunciation. My prof stresses the need for teaching rhythm and intonation over individual sounds. For the most part, I disagree with her because she’s assuming the students will be speaking to the ever-rarer ‘native speaker’. However, today I had a situation where I desperately needed to teach rhythm and stress in  class and was grateful for her suggestions and extra materials on the topic.

My students have to do a class presentation (song and dance) at the end of the camp.

I let them choose their own song (having learned from experience that when I choose for them it’s much harder to keep them engaged for three/four weeks). This group chose Party Rock Anthem. I could not talk them out of it.

Party Rock Anthem – LMFAO

Anyway, three verses of the song are raps. One of the kids is diligently trying to learn them. Until today, the other 14 have been sitting in silence during those parts. So I decided that there’ll be no more of that.

I told them that they aren’t allowed to say “I can’t” anymore.

I wrote the lyrics on the board, line by line and got them to tell me which words were stressed. We underlined the stressed words. I then got them to tap it out on their desks without speaking. Then I had them listen and tap. Then they listened, tapped, and lip-synced.

Finally, I played the song for them again and they were ALL able to do the first rap without trouble. Tomorrow we’re going to do it again with the second rap. 

No more “can’t”s.


UPDATE: They can.

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  • Vicky Loras  On August 9, 2012 at 1:04 am

    Hi Anne!

    Another great idea – I like how it happened and clicked! Awesome. I also love what you say about eliminating “can’t” – there is a Greek saying that says: ”
    There is no such thing as “I can’t”, but “I don’t want to”.



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