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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Blame it on the bossa nova: Music helps students master Portuguese

Emma Greguska, ASU News reports, "Known for his lyrical writing style, 18th-century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called music “the universal language of mankind.”"

ASU senior lecturer Clarice Deal incorporates music into her Portuguese classes to help improve students' memory and mastery of vocabulary. She uses music videos and audio files, sometimes taking requests from her students — but the type of songs used is key.
Photo: Charlie Leight/ASU News

You might say Arizona State University senior lecturer Clarice Deal is taking a page from his book in her unique approach to teaching Portuguese.

Ever since she began teaching at ASU in 1990, the Sao Paulo native has combined her love of music — in particular bossa nova, a style of Brazilian music derived from samba — with her passion for teaching.

“As I began teaching, I quickly realized that music provides an effective tool to assist in the teaching and acquisition of learning a new language,” said Deal, a member of ASU’s School of International Letters and Cultures faculty.

In fact, she found teaching language with music so effective that she decided to make it the subject of her postgraduate work.

“I began doing research on the subject of teaching with music in general, and later focusing on the subjunctive, a verb tense commonly used to express feelings of regret or desire (‘I wish I had’), that often shows up in music,” she said.

“As I researched I found a significant … amount of material on the use of music in the classroom. Experts identify several advantages of language learning through song: Memory is helped by rhythm; many songs are an excellent source of cultural knowledge, representing national characteristics, trends and tastes with astonishing clarity,” said Deal.
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Source: Arizona State University


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