fresh, fresher, freshest: building vocabulary through rhythm and rhyme

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These are slides from my session in the iTDi Summer School MOOC, August, 2014 on WizIQ.


  • Fresh, Fresher, Freshest

    Vocabulary Building Through Rhythm and Rhyme


    Jason R. Levine

  • Respect, Tunisia - Fluency MC and MK Productions


  • Dont throw the ________ out with the _______.

  • Dont throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Audio-Lingual Method

    Sufficient input and repetition but often boring,

    out of context, not meaningful

    Easy for students to lose motivation

    Communicative Approach

    Often interesting and meaningful with language in context but not enough repetitive exposure to input

    Easy for students to lose motivation


    What did you do during your vacation? Boston! Whos practicing English?

    Mention EFL projects: Ji Yeon (becoming a nurse)

  • The Baby and the Bathwater

    In its response to the Audio-Lingual Method, Communicative Language Teaching ultimately threw the baby out with the bathwater.

    We need interesting and meaningful language in context with enough repetitive exposure to input.


    What did you do during your vacation? Boston! Whos practicing English?

    Mention EFL projects: Ji Yeon (becoming a nurse)

  • Kids are like sponges.

  • Can teens and adults be sponges when they learn a second language?

    Can they

    get exposure to large amounts of repetitive input?

    be relaxed?

    be interested and engaged?

    be unconcerned with errors?

    turn off our analytical brains?

  • How important is repetition?

    Is there good repetition? Bad repetition?

    Natural repetition? Unnatural repetition?

  • When we are relaxed, we engage;

    when we are engaged we relax.

  • Explain _____

    _____ food

    Totally _____

    A bus _____

    _____ smoking

  • Collocation =

    A high-frequency

    CHUNK of language


    Collo vs. idiom

  • Collo =



  • listen music or listen to music?

    The brain only cares about

    what sounds right and looks right.

    To do so, the brain needs

    sufficient, repetitive input.

    And we must be relaxed

    and engaged.

  • An ELL who lacks the ability to automatically recall collocations, lacks the foundation on which to build accurate and fluent communicative skills.

    Textbooks, worksheets, and flashcards do not provide enough repeated exposure to collocations.

  • Most students are neither
    farmers nor sailors.


    Discuss immersion

  • Always ______

    Just ______
    Kentucky _____

  • My 9th grade European history class:

    I loved the teacher.
    The content was interesting.
    Her lessons were exciting.
    I studied like crazy.
    I got an A in the class.

  • Today I remember nothing.

  • ColloTunes

  • I got to know this kid when I got to junior high.

    He used to get into trouble, get in fights, and get high.

    But when he got a little older, he got more mature.

    His mom got him in line so his vision wouldnt blur.

    She got on his case to get straight and get a job,

    so they could get by without having to rob.

    Every night when he got off, hed get out his notebook

    and get busy writing rhymes because he was no crook.

    He got a look at universities and got some applications,

    got approval from his teachers to get their recommendations.

    He got grief from his friends; he got insulted and got hurt

    when they got scared and insecure because they

    knew he would desert them.

    Get a Life

  • How do songs promote

    vocabulary acquisition?

  • How do songs promote

    vocabulary acquisition?

    They increase motivation.

    Students are relaxed.

    Students like to listen to them.

    They are not part of the curriculum.

    Its fun to sing along.

    Students repeat the vocabulary words.

    Its easier to listen to songs repeatedly because of technology.

    The singers are native speakers.

    Students can select the songs themselves.

    They can practice movements.

    They learn subconsciously.

  • How can we use songs to

    teach vocabulary?

  • How can we use songs to

    teach vocabulary?

    Make gap-fills (word, phrase, sentence level).

    Make lyrics scrambles/jumbles (picture scrambles).

    Students correct mistakes.

    Elicit ideas before listening.

    Pre-teach vocabulary.

    Ask students questions about new vocabulary.

    Students circle unknown words.

    Students infer meaning from context.

    Students write sentences with new vocabulary.

    Discuss the song and the artist in class.

    The teacher can play an instrument in class.

    Students can create an activity for a song; they get to be the teacher.

  • Challenges we face using pop songs to teach

    Need to consider dialect vs. standard; low-freq. vocab. vs. high

    Messages may be difficult to understand and/or explain

    Stress patterns may be unnatural

    Some material may be inappropriate for certain ages or cultures

    The vocabulary may not be what the students most need to learn

    Things to keep in mind

    Dont take away the lyrics if it lowers interest or increases stress

    Dont pressure students to sing or perform

    Consider and assign different roles to students

    Dont pressure yourself to sing or perform

  • Delights vs. Complaining with Noise

    Students need to like the song.

    You should have objectives and plan a lesson around the song.

    You need to consider the students ages and levels.

    The song should not be too fast.

    The song should be related to things the students are interested in.

    The students should have copies of the lyrics.

    Teachers should take students individual differences into account.

    You need to spend enough time with the song; repeat enough times.

  • What are ColloTunes?

    ColloTunes are songs created and performed by Fluency MC to teach English to children and adults. Students listen, speak, and rap while following along with the lyric sheets. ColloTunes are rich in the high-frequency vocabulary and grammar structures we need to speak fluent, accurate English. In a ColloTunes activity, students are relaxed and engaged. Conscious effort to memorize gives way to fluent, subconscious learning.

    The Collo in ColloTunes is short for collocation. A collocation is a

    high-frequency chunk of spoken or written language. Take a shower, meet for coffee, a tough situation, and so much time are collos.

    When we meet collos again and again, they stick in our heads; we say and write them automatically without hesitating, translating, or

    worrying about grammar. ColloTunes contain the collos we use every

    day in English. Repeated practice with collos helps learners improve

    all four skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

  • ColloTunes

    Build all four language skills

    Accelerate vocabulary acquisition and understanding of language functions

    Follow the natural stress patterns of English

    Make it easy (and fun!) to learn difficult grammar structures

    Provide practice for students in and out the classroom

    Are available for multiple levels, ages, and learning styles

    Include conversation activities, writing practice, quizzes, and lesson plans

    Supplement any syllabus or curriculum

    Are used by teachers in dozens of countries worldwide

  • This is the basic procedure for learning with ColloTunes

    1Listen to the Tune without reading the lyrics.

    2Read the lyrics without listening.

    3Discuss the meaning and purpose of the Tune.

    4Listen while silently reading the lyrics.

    5 Discuss vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

    6Speak/rap/sing while listening.

    7 Listen, read, and write with the Gap-fill Exercises.

    8 Do additional practice with the Activity Sheets.

    9Speak/rap/sing over the instrumental versions of the songs.

    10 Write your own lyrics and perform your own Tunes in class.


    Pause Tunes and repeat, reorder, or omit steps when necessary.

    Create your own procedure to meet your students needs.

    Do Gap-fills and Activity Sheets in class or assign them for homework.

    Create your own activities to suit your students interests.

  • Fresh (fresher, freshest)

  • Fresh (fresher, freshest)

    Whether youre young (younger, youngest) or old (older, oldest). If youre shy (shyer, shyest) or bold

    (bolder, boldest) follow Fluency MC. Stick with me

    and youll see we keep it hot (hotter, hottest) never

    cold (colder, coldest). Make it loud (louder, loudest).

    Im proud (prouder, proudest) of my family round the world; I could never be without this. Across the globe were spreading wide (wider, widest)-dont you know-we learn through having fun; you ought to try this! Soon (sooner, soonest) youll learn quick (quicker, quickest). If your books and lessons make you sick (sicker, sickest) sing along to this song and youll be strong (stronger, strongest). Relax and repeat. It wont take long (longer, longest).

  • ColloLearn is based on the principle that when we are relaxed and actively engaged in communicative activities, repeated exposure to collocations forms a foundation of accurate and