Learning Language Through Music

June 8, 2016

Learning Language Through Music

At the Newton Free Library we have been offering a class called “Learning Language Through Music”.  In this class we use YouTube videos featuring classical, folk, country, and contemporary music as a springboard for talk about music.  The strength of the program is that the participants not only improve their English as they are discussing the music, but they learn about music from all over the world.

The Newton Free Library presented a workshop at the May 2016 conference in Marlborough, MA called “Network 2016”.  A picture below is of the two presenters, Anna Yan and Dr. Arthur Gerstenfeld:


At the conference Art first described some of the recent research which shows a strong relationship between music and the brain.  Hearing music not only changes one’s mood, but the brain connects the music to the words which stay in our brains for long periods of time. One of the people from the conference thinks music is a Time Machine. It is Art’s belief that the brain connects music to words and we often can remember words from music from our childhood.

In some of the classes led by Art, the students present music from their own country and explain that music to the rest of the class.  Of course the presenter is using his or her best English during the presentation and the rest of the class is practicing their English as part of the discussion.  Here is an excerpt from Anna’s presentation:


Pipa is one of the most popular plucked string instruments in China.  Pear-shaped and guitar-sized, Pipa covers a large part of the player when it is played. That’s why pipa is said to be designed for traditional Chinese women, who are highly encouraged to have a reserved manner. Think of a lady who hides half of her face behind the upper part of pipa from time to time when she is playing the pipa in front of the one she likes in her heart.  For images and more information consult https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pipa.


Celebrate! for Children at the John F. Kennedy Library

September 15, 2016

The Celebrate! series, appropriate for family audiences and children ages 5 and up, highlights America’s rich cultural diversity through the arts. The listing below includes a variety of free performances that might interest your family, relatives, and friends:


Teaching E.L.L. Students With Messaging Apps and New York Times Videos

September 2, 2016

New York Times Learning Network


September 1, 2016

ESL-Lounge is a website that gives free access to hundreds of ESL lesson plans and materials that can be used for communicative English lessons in the classroom. Resources on the site include printable grammar worksheets, surveys, flashcards, song lyrics, board games, and reading comprehension and communication activities for various levels of English knowledge. The “Book Worm” sections throughout the site help teachers choose the best learning materials for their students. Visit their website for more information.

Free voting guide!

August 25, 2016
 “This brief voting guide comes to you from News for You®,the easy-to-read weekly newspaper and website. This guide explains who can vote and why every vote counts. It describes how Americans choose their leaders. It also tells you how to
register and how to cast your ballot.”
Free Voting Guide

Let’s go on a field trip!

August 19, 2016

Here are some great ideas from our Newton Free Library ELL & Literacy tutors:

Chinese House at the Peabody Essex  Museum

Flower Show at the World Trade Center

H Mart, an Asian Grocery Store in Burlington


Tea Party Ship

DeCordova Museum

Harbor Cruise to the Harbor Islands

Duck Boats

Museum of Fine Arts – free ESOL tours

Haymarket on Friday and Saturday

Wellesley Botanical Gardens

Tours of the Boston Public Library

Freedom Trail

Gore Place, Waltham

Drumlin Farm

Wayside Inn, Sudbury – complex with grist mill

Fruitlands at Harvard, MA

Louisa May Alcott House

Auburndale Book Sale

Concerts at the Newton Free Library


Garden in the Woods

Jackson Homestead

Newton Cemetery

Have fun!





Newton Free Library A-Z Collage Series

August 19, 2016

 Come to the third floor Language and Literacy Center to view our beautiful A to Z Collage Series donated by Phoebe Ann Erb, artist and English teacher to adult immigrants from around the world. The fine art prints enliven our Language and Literacy Center and inspire tutors and learners in the English Language Learning & Literacy program. Now part of the library’s permanent art collection, the series will serve as a teaching tool and conversation starter.



Improving Writing Skills

August 19, 2016

Although the article here from Colorin Colorado focuses more on English language learners and writing, adult teachers of any level can pick up some tips on how to help students improve their writing skills: