Learning English through Popular Culture: School-Based Experiences with “ELT Rap”
Learning English as a second or foreign language often poses tremendous difficulties for working class students with low motivation to learn a language that is imposed on them and very different from their heritage language. Popular culture is seen as a way to tap into young people’s cultural resources and identity and to promote English learning. “Learning English through popular culture” has recently been introduced into the Hong Kong English language curriculum as a means to arouse students’ motivation in learning English and help improve their English proficiency.
This paper presents some pioneering efforts in designing and trying out an innovative language arts genre that combines popular youth cultural resources and hip hop rap music styles for English teaching and learning purposes. This new language arts genre, which we call “ELT Rap”, is the result of a pilot project based on a Hip Hop University-School-Resident-Artist Programme involving strong partnership among university researchers, school personnel and rap artists. All work together to conduct workshops, with artists-students dialogue sessions after school to foster positive L2 speaker identities and confidence in L2 English learning.
Presenters will report their findings and show benefits and shortcomings of the project as well as identify particular issues relevant to the teaching of English through popular culture. School-based experiences for promoting “ELT Rap” as a means to engage students in L2 learning, raise awareness of the importance of speech and pronunciation in English, as well as develop critical skills concerning the content of rap songs, will be documented. Through collected data such as observations, videotaped interactions, and interviews, the researchers’ and practitioners’ perspectives will be explored and directions for future research will also be proposed.
Keywords: Second Language Learning, Learning English as a Foreign Language, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Learning English through Popular Culture, Learner Diversity
Evelyn Y Man
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Mr. Franky Kai-cheung Poon
Vice-Principal, HKRSS Tai Po Secondary School