Issue 1: Rap and ELT

By Jesper Mok (LED Year 2, 2006-2007)

Are you amazed by the hip-hop artists in the MTV? Do you think their rapping skills are tremendous? And that their rapping skills gifted?

Actually, rapping is not as difficult as everyone imagines. Through practices as well as exposure, you can become the next rap star! Rap, moreover, is a very useful tool in English language teaching. For instance, its rhythmic and big-beat nature is really helpful in teaching oral English. Imagine when you are teaching stress, rhyming pattern and intonation to your students, would it not be better to have some authentic examples instead of demonstrating them yourself? In addition, with careful selection of the rap or hip-hop materials, the effectiveness of using them to teach pronunciation is maximised. More importantly, students are more likely to get themselves involved in the lesson as learning English is no longer dull and rigid! Rap can energise the language and make English language a vivid and lively subject.

Another advantage of using rap in ELT is its flexibility. You can always tailor-make your own version of rap in order to suit your teaching style or students’ interests and needs. You can make use of the topic you are teaching, or even the daily news, to make your own rap rhymes. Rap’s close “relative”, jazz chants, is also providing the same functions. Explore it, and you can have so much fun in teaching English!  If you are interested in knowing more about rap in ELT, or if you want to acquire some basic knowledge of how to make your own rhyme, you can have a look at the book and the website I recommend below (There is a cassette tape appended to the book).

Graham, C. (1978). Jazz chants: rhythms of American English for students of English as a second language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This website provides a lot of listening materials for jazz chants and rap rhymes:

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