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TOOL 7: The Anatomy of Lyric Cards


The music and songs of a country not only provide us with an interest- ing and fun approach to learning new vocabulary, syntax, and sen- tence structure, they also give us interesting cultural information that is difficult to find in regular sources.

Songs help us to become familiar with the cadence and rhythm of a language. It is very important that students get the “feel” for how a language flows. Feeling comfortable or “familiar” with the rhythm of a language is essential if your students want their speaking ability to improve.

In Japan, expectant mothers, who want their yet unborn children to be good English speakers when they are older, regularly attend kinder- garten English classes. Research has found that even unborn children synchronize their brain waves and their movements to music or to the speech of people near them. It is believed that being familiar with the rhythms of a language gives children a head start on the learning process.

Songs can help your students compare and become familiar with the differences in rhythm and stress between their own and the target language they are studying.

The lyrics and the questions on the back of each Lyric Card are in keyword form on the front. The front also has some interesting infor- mation about the writer, or the singer(s) of the song, and/or the musicians who play it.

The cards are designed to be used by all levels of students. Beginners can enjoy learning the songs just as they are, more advanced students can use the songs and text as topic starters for free conversations.

Songs are an excellent way for your students to practice the Talk learning technique “Using gibberish”.

Using gibberish

Using gibberish helps you to learn sound patterns quickly.

When we sing a song we often sing lalala or hmhmhm or make other sounds that are without meaning. It’s common, I do it, you do it, everyone does it sometimes. To use gibberish when we sing a song is normal. We don’t think it’s strange because the melody is the impor- tant thing we concentrate on and enjoy hearing.

Similarly, when we speak, there is a melody that carries the words along. A limited number of sounds combine into the underlying patterns on which the meaning (packaged into small parcels we call words) ride. The important point to remember is that sound patterns carry meaning.

By concentrating just on the melody and forgetting for a moment the words, your students will quickly (most of them, not all) discover the rhythm and the intonation of the language they’re learning.

First you will have to force them to use gibberish, but after a few times they will get the hang of it. They should always use this interesting technique to help them master a word, a phrase, or a sentence.

The songs we have chosen for the Lyric Cards should be familiar to your students. If they are not, or you would like special cards made up, just let us know.

TOOLS Anatomy-07


Suggested activities for TOOL 7:

It is not necessary to follow them in the given order.
We have created The Study Tips for the 7 TALK Tools in the form of a small booklet. (Click here to download the English Study Tips or the Japanese Study Tips.)

01 Listen to the song and fill in the blanks.
02 Sing the song with the help of the written Lyrics.
03 Read the lyrics for meaning.
04 Find the missing information by asking each other questions.
05 Read the questions and answer them.
06 Use the drawings and the song to start a free conversation.
07 Create your own Lyric Card.