Review of Fluency MC’s Rhyme-On-Time! activity book
At last we have a book that fully exploits the well-known correlation between music and language learning. This book incorporates the precision of a traditional grammar book with the flow of right-brain engagement and endorphin-rich repetition.
It serves as a reminder that there need not be a dichotomy between dry academia and the creative arts. Good news for students and free-thinking ELT professionals everywhere.
With Relax, repeat, remember as the background mantra, Jason R Levine manages to present grammar, vocabulary, speaking, stress patterns, chanting, singing and phonetic awareness in a beautifully digestible, brain-friendly format.
A book that can engage whole-brain awareness and save hours of mindless drilling is sure to transform the experiences of teachers and students alike.
The activity book comprises fourteen lesson plans to accompany the collo-tunes which serve as the presentation media as well as curricula for teaching students speaking, listening, reading, predicting, pronunciation and ultimately, how to RAP out their own tunes.
From the perspectives of developing emotional and social intelligence, this book is a perfect vehicle for allowing shy or insecure students to practise without fear of failure, and to build confidence via chanting, rapping and performing.
The methodology also enables teachers to develop deeper rapport and smooth flowing dynamics in the classroom. I can also see room for teachers to transform rap sessions into dramatic roleplays and writing opportunites.
The best books are always those that take teachers to a new level in professional development as well as encouraging open-ended adaptation.This is one of my yard sticks in evaluating ELT publications. Ongoing professional development as opposed to following static ‘recipes’ keep the learning experience organic and authentic.
The layout is simple, well-organised and interspersed with beautifully placed colour-coded instructions and fonts which deliberatley lead students into the linguistic elements of the RAP experience.
It includes a clear glossary, very specific learning objectives, and detailed instructions for both teachers and students. It suits both newly qualified teachers and more adventurous, experienced teachers who are encouraged to play with and adapt according to level or as the teacher sees fit.
Let’s take a look at the free sample unit
Rhyme & Rhythm, for example states the following precise language learning goals.
Vocabulary – introductions, likes/dislikes, asking questions, saying no, verb-noun collocations.
Grammar structures, yes/no questions,wh- questions, negatives, and contractions.
Pronunciation – stressed and reduced speech; intonation to express contrast.
Just like a regular textbook?
Except that these linguistic chunks are delivered via RAP music, with activity sheets that encourage full active participation from all students and are completely free of passive learning traps or left-brain quagmires.
I’ll finish by mentioning the artistic word play, humour and poetic juxtaposition of the tunes themselves, that by default are sure to awaken a sense of fun and creative endeavour in the students.
Let me also stress one of the most important elements of the whole thing, which is the background mantra – Relax, Repeat, Remember.
The activity sheets have many activities that encourage whole-brain, fun repetition and also encourage discussion of language and concepts.
Here’s to inspiring times in ELT with Fluency MC.