Josephine Johnson has been teaching at ELC for many years. She has a passion for music that influences her teaching style. At ELC, you’ll never catch Josephine without her guitar, and you’ll hear her singing in the halls. “Music is something I’ve always done,” says Josephine. “First, I sang. I always knew I wanted to be a writer and make my own music.” She also knew she wanted to be a teacher when she worked as a peer tutor in sixth grade. She went on to get her Masters at Humboldt State University in Teaching.
Josephine often incorporates music into her teaching lessons. “I have some songs that are all about prepositions and then I have some songs that are all about pronouns. I’m always listening to songs with an ear for how they might lend themselves to the classroom.”
A recent favorite of Josephine is the song “Riptide” by Vance Joy. Students like the song, and there are a lot of idioms in it: “she’s been living on the highest shelf,” and “all my friends are turning green” to name a few. When Josephine introduces her students to a song, she instructs students to pull up the lyrics on their phone and read along while she plays the song, usually on her guitar. She asks students to write down words or phrases that they do not know and together they unpack the lyrics and analyze the meaning of the song.
Music is rich with language that may be difficult even for a native speaker to understand, which makes it a perfect tool for learning English. You can improve your English by paying close attention to the lyrics of the songs you like, and learning the words and phrases you do not know. “Anytime you have an English song that you like, learn the lyrics,” advices Josephine. It is a fun way to expand your vocabulary, learn slang and colloquial expressions, and may even help familiarize you with a variety of accents and correct pronunciations of words.
Another way that music can be incorporated in the classroom is by writing a song in class. For example, Josephine’s students collaborated to write a song using the present progressive. Josephine writes the melody, and the students work together to write the lyrics. When all the students are on board and generating content, the end product really “makes it special” says Josephine.