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.


Vocabulary Booster

July 16, 2016

Dawn, a tutor in the Newton Free Library’s adult ELL program recommends the following page for those learners who would like to improve their vocabulary:

128 Words to Use Instead of Very


List of Novels for Adult English Language Learners

June 23, 2016

Here is a link to a great printable list of novels for adult ELLs with annotations and reading grade levels.  The list was recommended by Lois, a tutor from the Newton Free Library’s ELL & Literacy program.



Network 2016 Conference

June 10, 2016

Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education – Network 2016

On MAY 13 the Newton Free Library had four people participate in a fascinating conference on adult education.  The conference was held in Marlborough, MA. and was attended by more than 500 persons.  The conference focused on many aspects of adult education including English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

Below is a picture of the four participants from the Newton Free Library.  The picture shows Anna Yan Shi, Professor Art Gerstenfeld, Susan Bécam, English Language Learning & Literacy Coordinator and Hongrui Chu.



The workshops of particular interest for us in the area of ELL were the following “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”, “Word Study”, and “Using Music to Teach ELL”. A brief description follows:

In the workshop on “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” a huge picture was shown on a screen and the participants were asked to describe what they saw in the picture.  We discussed how this can be an excellent way to have ELL students practicing their English.

Another workshop for ELL focused on “Word Study: Increasing Vocabulary and Comprehension through Morphology”.  We discussed the smallest units of words including prefixes, suffixes, and base/root words.  The students learn how “s” can pluralize for example.  Further it was explained how “ed” and “ing” can alter root words but keep the word class intact.  It was explained how this can improve vocabulary by helping to organize mental dictionaries so related words are easily associated and retrieved.

We will feed many of these ideas into our ELL classes and tutoring at the Newton Library.  We already look forward to participating in Network 2017.



World Read Aloud Day

February 22, 2016

World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries thanks to people like you who participate and spread the word across the globe!

mentioned in SB&F (Science Books and Films) January 2016 p. 50

Tech Time for Teachers

September 23, 2015
Tech Tips for Teachers is a blog for adult education teachers and tutors looking for straight-forward help to integrate technology into instruction. Subscribe on World Education, Inc. site to receive posts by email or RSS feed or follow @WorldEdUS on Twitter for new post announcements.

Want to talk about the weather?!

January 23, 2015

The January22, 2015 edition of the New York Times blog, The Learning Network, included an excellent article with many great ideas for teaching and talking about the weather.  Enjoy!

Ideas for E.L.L.s | Teaching About Weather and Seasons




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