- Keywords: Group work, music, technology, presentation, PowerPoint
- Learner English level: Beginners and above
- Learner maturity: High school and above
- Preparation time: 30 minutes
- Activity time: 2to 4 weeks
- Materials: Computers, projector, CD player
Organizing group music presentations is an excellent way to create a communicative language activity in a listening skills course and provides a way to assess students’ skills in other skill areas (Haskell, 1998). It has also been shown to increase student motivation and perception of success in a cooperative learning environment (Servetter, 1999). Additionally, students in our courses utilized Microsoft’s PowerPoint software to deliver dynamic multimedia presentations, mixing various media forms (text, audio, visual, spoken) that are commonplace communication tools in today’s world. The following is a summary of a group project that can be used to enhance a music-based listening course.
Make a handout that explains the project or use the Music Presentation handout (see Appendix 1) and Evaluation Sheets (see Appendix 2).
Step 1: Divide students into groups of three or four. Distribute the handout that explains the project. Emphasize that everyone in the group will receive the same grade.
Step 2: Each group picks a song to present.
Step 3: Students decide and assign roles to each group member. For example, a leader who monitors how everyone is doing in the group and communicates with the instructor (about getting instructions, reporting the group’s progress, and asking specific questions), a designer who plans and designs the PowerPoint slides (including the layout, template, and organization), a researcher who finds appropriate resources from the Internet (such as photos, videos, text articles, interviews, and lyrics), and a writer who is in charge of putting information together (summarizing and rewording from resources to produce the PowerPoint slides and speech script).
Step 4: Assign students the number and content of slides. At the beginning of class, inform the leader how many slides they need to finish by the end of each class. The leader should report the group’s progress to the instructor before the class ends. Give feedback on the content and English. Possible examples of slide content can include:reasons why the group picked the song; summary of the song; favorite lyrics and interpretations; information about the musician; other recommendations on this genre, theme, or musician.
Step 5: After students finish making their slides, they should prepare what they will say foreach slide, dividing the slides equally among group members.
Step 6: Before the presentation, give an Evaluation Sheet to each group. Groups need to decide how many points to give each presentation, excluding their own. Possible criteria are:Did you understand most of their speech?Did you learn interesting information about the musician?Were the PowerPoint slides well designed?
Step 7: Groups do their presentation and play the music they chose.
Step 8: Give points for each presentation. Possible criteria are:Did each slide contain the necessary information?Did everyone participate in the presentation?Did the PowerPoint slides effectively support their presentation?
Step 9: Students vote on which presentation they liked the best. In addition, provide your own feedback. Alternatively, focus not on which presentation students liked best, but on good points from each one. Since all students within each group will receive the same grade, this may be a better way to give everyone positive reinforcement (see Evaluation Sheetin Appendix 2).
This project can be used (with modifications) from beginner to advanced levels. It is important for instructors to approve and monitor students’ choice of songs, making sure the song is appropriate for the level of the class. Songs that are slow and have repetitive lyrics tend to work best. This activity works well for fostering student relationships, displaying student talents which are often overlooked in the language classroom, and promoting further interest in English pop music by exposing students to new music selected by their peers.
Haskell, D. (1998). Theme music presentations: Organizing oral audio-visual student presentations of popular songs. JALT Focus on the Classroom, 23-27.
Servetter, B. (1999). Cooperative learning and learner-centered projects for lower-level university students. JALT Applied Materials, 106-116.
The appendixes for this article are available below.