Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rio Salado Teaches English through Music

For generations, cultures around the globe have used the power of music to facilitate and enhance learning, to share stories and perpetuate traditions. Honoring this approach, Rio Salado College’s Southern location at 3320 S. Price Road, has created a unique musical club where traditional folk music is used to help English as a Second Language (ELAA) students master the English language.

Every Wednesday, students gather around as Adult Basic Education Instructor Peggy Lux leads the group in a handful of catchy songs that are geared to help with language comprehension, pronunciation and annunciation.
“Our music club was created for students who like to make a joyful noise while receiving practical benefits from learning this way,” said Lux. “Our accents tend to disappear when we sing.”

Students have the opportunity to learn classic American songs like “Old McDonald,” and even festive favorites such as “Jingle Bells” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

“Music and singing are traditional learning tools,” Lux said. “Think of the alphabet song. Music is a great way for students to learn proper pronunciation through muscle memory. I've use this technique in my ELAA classes.”

The music club complements the ELAA program, which helps local residents of all skill levels improve upon their written and verbal English language competency.

Francisco Alberto De La Torre-Gutierrez, a Rio Salado lab technician and trained guitarist, said he enjoys sharing his passion for both music and English with students.

“It’s really a learning environment,” said De La Torre-Gutierrez. “Students are able to apply what they learn in music club to what they are currently learning in ELAA. It seems to really help them better comprehend the English language.”

Khurram and Francisco
Music club participants represent a diverse network of countries and cultural backgrounds.

Socorro Alicia Leon relocated to Phoenix from Guadalupe, Mexico, where she ran her own business for more than 30 years.

Khurram Shahzad recently relocated to Phoenix from Pakistan and embraced the opportunity to combine learning English and music.

“It was something I really wanted to learn, and when the opportunity was offered to students at this location for free, I couldn’t wait to sign up,” said Shahzad, who was also inspired to take up the guitar.

When asked what she most enjoys about instructing the music club, Lux said, “It is a relaxed way to share American music and its traditions with our students. It’s exciting to be a part of their learning process.”

Music club is available to all students who have completed registration at the RSC Southern location, at no additional cost.

To learn more about Rio Salado College’s ELAA program, please visit riosalado.edu/elaa.

This story can also be found in some December 13 issues of the Arizona Republic. By Aubrie Artiano, PR Assistant for Rio Salado College.

PHOTO 1: Socorro Alicia Leon, Rio Salado ELAA student, participates in music club with Francisco Alberto De La Torre-Gutierrez, Rio Salado lab technician.