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«Jazz Chants... how to use them to help your students speak more clearly, practice vocabulary, and learn and reinforce grammar patterns. Shirley ...»

Jazz Chants

... how to use them to help your students speak more

clearly, practice vocabulary, and learn and reinforce

grammar patterns.

Shirley Thompson

ESL Consultant, Teacher Trainer

Goals for this webinar:

• to introduce (or re-introduce) you to Carolyn

Graham’s Jazz Chants.

• to show you how I introduce and practice chants in

my classes

• to explore a variety of ways you can use jazz chants

– to help your students speak with the natural rhythm and intonation patterns of American English – to practice vocabulary – to introduce and reinforce grammar patterns What are Jazz Chants?

“Jazz Chants are Carolyn Graham's snappy, upbeat chants and poems that use jazz rhythms to illustrate the natural stress and intonation patterns of conversational American English.” [from Oxford University Press] Let’s listen to Carolyn Graham tell how jazz chants were born.

Carolyn Graham: “A jazz chant is really just spoken American English with an awareness of the natural rhythms.”

• Chants use natural spoken English

• Chants can be used in classes of any size

• Chants don’t require any special materials

• Chants can be used with all age groups

• Chants do not require musical ability Let’s begin with the simplest of chants.

Listen first. Then we’ll practice.

Hi, how are you?

Fine, how are you.

Advice from Carolyn Graham...

• A jazz chant has a four-beat rhythm: 1, 2, 3, 4,

• Each beat will be either a stressed word (or syllable) or clap (or tap or pause)

• The first beat is the first stressed word, which may not be the first word.

Example: Do you like it? (clap) Yes, I do.

Why is this focus on stress, rhythm, and grouping so useful?

For native English speakers, stress is key to meaning. It’s what we listen for to know what’s important and what to focus on.

Jazz chants are a fun, practical way to help students begin to notice and produce natural rhythm.


Many languages are “syllable-timed”-- every syllable gets more or less the same stress or emphasis.

ed u ca ti on = 5 staccato beats pa pa = 2 even, staccato beats, same vowel sound in both BUT NOT ENGLISH...English is a “stress-timed” language.

The rhythm is based on stressed words and syllables, not all syllables.

ed u CA tion = 1 strong beat PA pa = 1 strong beat Rhythm in Sentences How many syllables? How many stresses?

Kids play ball.

3 syllables/3 stresses = 3 beats The kids play ball.

4 syllables/3 stresses = 3 beats The kids are playing ball.

6 syllables/3 stresses = 3 beats The kids are playing with the ball.

8 syllables/3 stresses = 3 beats The kids have been playing with the ball.

9 syllables/ 3 stresses = 3 beats The beat is set by the number of stresses, NOT the number of syllables. So, each line takes approximately the SAME amount of time to say. Let’s try it.

Kids play ball.

12 3 (clap = 4) The kids play ball.

The kids are playing ball.

The kids are playing with the ball.

The kids have been playing with the ball.

The many levels of STRESS

• Words with two or more syllables will always have one primary stress.

• photograph, photographer, photographic

• Phrases have stress.

• an excellent photographer (unstressed, stressed, focus stress)

• Sentences have stress patterns.

• My grandmother was an excellent photographer.

• We use stress to focus attention and show contrast, often to correct, contradict or disagree.

– My father liked to paint, but my mother was a photographer.

– She was a photographer not a photojournalist.

Stress in English impacts meaning.

(Other languages have stress, but often it doesn’t change the meaning.)

Word-level: REcord vs. reCORD

Years ago, I was teaching a speaking & listening class.

After class, a student approached me with his cassette tape in his hand...

Student: I need to talk to you about my cassette.

Me: Do I know your cousin?

I misunderstood because the stress was incorrect even though he used the correct word.

Stress affects meaning at the phrase and sentence level.

A conversation in a bakery:

Customer: I’d like two large muffins, please.

Server: Here you are.

Can you guess what the problem is in each case?

1. Customer: Excuse me, I asked for two large muffins.

2. Customer: Excuse me, I asked for two large muffins.

3. Customer: Excuse me, I asked for two large muffins.

Regular focus on stress and rhythm will train your students to NOTICE stress in English – even if they don’t always get it right, at least they’ll be learning to listen for it!

Some general suggestions for using Jazz Chants:

Begin ORALLY. This forces students to listen to what you actually say and not what they think words should sound like based on the way things are spelled.

Be dramatic. Exaggerate and make it fun.

Have students listen to the whole chant first.

Then have them listen and repeat each line several times together as a chorus.

How I teach jazz chants...

1. Introduce the chant orally first. Explain any idioms.

Discuss the context.

2. Begin with group (choral) practice. Then move to pair and individual practice.

3. Focus on stress, thought groups, and intonation.

4. For longer, more complex chants, after some oral practice, (group and pairs) show them the written chant. Go through it again several times.

5. Together, mark it to show major stresses, intonation, reduced sounds, linking and blending. [Visual learners will appreciate this!]

6. Review chants regularly! They make great warm-ups.

Do you like it?

• Do you like it? (clap) Yes, I do.

• 1 2 34

• Does he like it? (clap) Yes, he does.

• Does she like it? (clap) Yes, she does.

• Do they like it? (clap) No, they don’t.

• No, they don’t. No, they don’t.

Do you like it?

Do you like it? (clap) Yes, I do.

Does he like it? (clap) Yes, he does.

Does she it? (clap) Yes, she does.

Do they like it? (clap) No, they don’t.

No, they don’t. No, they don’t. (all together) How stress works in sentences...

• content words are usually stressed - nouns, main verbs, adjectives, adverbs, demonstratives (this, these, those) and negatives (can’t, won’t, never, no, etc.)

• function words are usually unstressed and reduced - a, an, the, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, most prepositions, etc.

• in unstressed words and in unstressed syllables, the

vowel sounds are reduced and often move to “schwa”:

“Do you like it?” do and you are reduced

• typically the last content word in each thought group

receives the most stress:

I put the groceries/ in the bag / on the counter.

Two groups: A – questions; B – answers.

Last line all together.

What do you wear on your head? A hat.

What do you wear on your hands? Gloves.

What do you wear on your feet? Socks.

Shoes and socks, shoes and socks. (all together) Do you think it’s going to rain?

(first verse) Do you think it’s going to rain?

I hope not.

Do you think it’s going to rain?

I hope not.

It looks like rain.

It looks like rain.

Do you think it’s going to rain?

I hope not.

(from Small Talk) It Was Raining When She Saw Him It was raining when she saw him.

It was raining when they met.

It was pouring when they fell in love, the streets were dark and wet.

It was raining when they parted.

There were dark clouds in the sky.

It was raining when he left her, when he turned and said “Good-bye.” Here’s another case where you could mark the rhythm in at least two different ways.

It was raining when she saw him.

It was raining when they met.

It was raining when she saw him. (clap) It was raining when they met. (clap) An easy jazz chant.

• Jazz chants can provide students with useful “chunks” of language – expressions they learn as a whole rather than word-by-word.

• Carolyn Graham’s chant, How do you spell “dog”? gives student a “template” for asking how to spell a word.

• Try beating out the rhythm by marching. You can have students march in a circle as they chant. It gets the rhythm of English into their bodies.

(It’s specially great for kinesthetic learners.) How do you spell dog? (clap, tap, or snap) d-o-g (clap/tap) How do you spell cat? (clap/tap) c-a-t (clap/tap) How do you spell octopus? (clap/tap) Don’t ask me! (clap/tap) In grammar classes...

• Whenever possible, introduce grammar points orally. Jazz chants are a fun and memorable way to do this.

• Focus on the individual sounds that matter most in English – sounds that indicate grammatical features such as third

person singular, plural or tenses. For example:

/s/,/z/, /t/ /d/, and /Id/.

• Here’s a jazz chant called “The Hungry Boy Chant.”

He wants:

One egg, two bananas, Three hotdogs, four hamburgers, Five cookies, six sandwiches, (clap) He’s a hungry boy! (clap) This provides practice with plural endings.

You can also use it to teach students to notice how stress changes to express different meanings. Make true and false statements and have students

correct you. Or ask questions. Example:

• You: He ate three eggs. Student: No, he ate three hotdogs.

• You: He ate three bananas. Student: No, he ate two bananas.

• You: Did he eat three sandwiches? No, he ate six sandwiches.

Grammarchant: Irregular Verbs from Grammar Chants by Carolyn Graham

–  –  –

If it rains / I’ll wear my raincoat. (clap) If it doesn’t rain / I won’t. (clap) When it’s cold / I always wear my gloves.

When it isn’t cold, / I don’t. (clap) If it snows I won’t wear sandals* (clap) If the sun comes out I will. (clap) But if it rains I’ll wear my brand new coat.* If I don’t I’ll get a chill. (clap) *When three content words appear in a row, we typically alternate the stress.

Habits (excerpt) Bob gets up at six o’clock.

He never wakes up late. (clap) He always gets up early. (clap) He never sleeps till eight. (clap) He always drinks his coffee black.

He never uses cream. (clap)...

(from Grammarchants) What’s Going on This Morning?

The earth is turning, The toast is burning, The water is boiling, The tea kettle’s whistling, The faucet is leaking, (etc.) More grammar with Jazz Chants For this activity, give the students the written version of the chant before they hear it. See if they can apply the rules of stress. At the same time, they’re reviewing parts of speech.

• Have students identify all of the nouns, adjectives, adverbs and other content words that will most likely be stressed when you’re going to do a chant.

Underline the stressed words.

• Then have them identify the function words that will be reduced. Draw a line through the unstressed words.

• Let’s try it.

Is the Post Office Open Tomorrow?

(excerpt from Jazz Chants by Carolyn Graham) Is the post office* open tomorrow?

It’s open from nine to five.

Is the post office open tomorrow?

It’s open from nine to five.

What time does it open?

It opens at nine.

What time does it close?

It closes at five.

It opens at nine and closes at five.

It’s open from nine to five.

Note: post office is a compound or set phrase and has one primary stress.

Is the Post Office Open Tomorrow?

(excerpt from Jazz Chants by Carolyn Graham) Is the post office* open tomorrow? rising intonation It’s open from nine to five.

Is the post office open tomorrow?

It’s open from nine to five.

What time does it open? falling intonation It opens at nine.

What time does it close?

It closes at five.

It opens at nine and closes at five.

It’s open from nine to five.

Note: post office is a compound or set phrase and has one primary stress.

Writing your own chants...

The language should be

• real

• useful

• appropriate for the level Let’s begin with vocabulary chants.

Why vocabulary chants? Rhythm is a powerful tool for memory.

1. Have students make a list of vocabulary words from a lesson you’ve done.

2. Ask them to arrange them according to the number of syllables per word.

3. Choose a two syllable, a three syllable and a one syllable word to make a chant.

An example from Carolyn Graham (you can see her perform this on the video) ruler (2 syllables) eraser (3 syllables) chair (1 syllable)

The chant:

ruler eraser chair (clap) ruler eraser chair (clap) ruler eraser ruler eraser ruler eraser chair (clap) Make it more complex by adding adjectives.

purple ruler pink eraser purple ruler pink eraser purple ruler pink eraser yellow chair yellow chair Vocabulary: places is my town

–  –  –

The chant:

perfect, fabulous, great (clap) perfect, fabulous, great (clap) perfect, fabulous, perfect, fabulous perfect, fabulous, great (clap) Writing your own chants...

Once you feel comfortable using jazz chants, you may want to try writing your own.

Start by listening to the rhythms that native speakers use.

Remember, it should be:

• real language,

• useful,

• and appropriate for the age group.

• And keep it simple.

It’s best to listen to something natural and unscripted as a model. Try National Public Radio, www.npr.org and click on Storycorps. You’ll hear American telling stories about their lives using natural language.

Recordings are great because you can listen to them again and again until you hear the rhythm.

Let’s recap... the many uses of jazz chants Use jazz chants to reinforce and practice vocabulary. Rhythm is a powerful memory tool. [ruler, eraser, chair]

• Use jazz chants to practice idiomatic expressions and “chunks” of useful language.

[How do you spell___? Do you think it’s going to rain? I hope so. I hope not.]

• Use jazz chants to practice grammar patterns and features.

[If it ____ I’ll (future). vs When it ____ I (simple present).; Do you.. ? Does he...? ]

• Use jazz chants to help your students learn and practice producing the natural rhythms of spoken English. [Hi. How are you?]

• If your students are shy and a bit timid about speaking English, use jazz chants to help them build confidence.

Thank you for joining this webinar!

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