- Acoustic instruments
Each Friday for one hour from September until June
Newcomer Youth Engagement Program: Music and Literacy
The Newcomer Youth Engagement project connects music and literacy while also connecting our university and a community organization that supports educational initiatives for newcomers to Canada.
Who we are: Our music team at the University of Saskatchewan partnered with the Saskatoon Industry Education Council and Newcomer Youth Engagement Program which is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. There are approximately 18 students in each of the two classes, and they range from 17–21 years of age.
Our goals: Together, our team has developed original curricula and we engage the students each week in musical activities of singing and playing instruments that connect to themes of their language studies to develop language skills in written and oral communication.
An important goal of the collaboration is to “Celebrate that everyone’s music is Canadian music and contributes to the fabric of Canada’s culture” and that this learning experience will facilitate the sharing of the students’ cultures and support the youths’ sense of belonging and connection to their own culture and the new country to which they are integrating.
Songs of Success:
1) The music we use in our iterative curriculum design invites the music from the students’ countries of origin and we also use some tried and tested early years songs in English that teach vocabulary and develop their literacy skills.
2) We have incorporated Popular Music songs throughout the program. As the students’ language skills developed and we had developed a relationship of trust where they felt valued through their music, we explored concepts of rhythm and beat through contemporary songs that they shared from their countries of origin. We also incorporated some more contemporary English songs into the language studies and the students responded very favourably to learning the words, themes, messages and meanings of the songs we introduced.
Complementing Activities: Since many of the students would have heard the songs, we could focus on written literacy skills through reading and writing the words.
We incorporated various activities with the lyrics including post-it note activities in which students had to unscramble the phrases in the song or song titles to put them in order, or find the incorrect words (often rhyming words) on the board and correct them with the proper word found in the song.
At the end of the year, we compiled a playlist of the songs we have learned and sung that showcased the students’ artwork from their art class that highlighted the theme of each song.
Lesson Structure: A lesson is one hour and follows a typical lesson structure as follows:
- Welcome song
- Call & response rhythms & melodies
- Learning new songs – (Graphics on screen, hand gestures – to indicate opposites, contractions, literal/figurative, etc. — and tactile & kinesthetic activities — post-it note games, assemble a snowman on the board, stand up when your birthday is sung in the “Months of the Year” song, raise hand when we sing an adjective, etc. are all essential as we learn new song lyrics.)
- Playing percussion instruments (listen & play-back exercises, playing along to a song, finding the beat of a song, and using instruments to help create word-based rhythms)
- A review of today’s learning
- Goodbye song
- Increased social bonding/cohesion
- Increased language comprehension, facility, and fluency which can even be marked by observations of students using language for humour
- Ease of communication through singing
- Rich opportunities to explore new words, grammar concepts, colloquialisms, connections, and ideas provided through examination of song lyrics
- The sense of pride & belonging students demonstrate when their favourite music and places from their home countries are part of class activities.
- Increased agency in their decision-making and input for artistic choices