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Let it flow
December 7, 2010 6:44 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to use rap to get some kids into writing / performing.

I'm talking about ESL here. Hip hop culture being a worldwide phenomenon, how could I find an interesting way to use rap (a motivating art form) as a basis to produce both written and oral material ?

I'm interested in any resource that would point at activities, anthologies (good, simple, deep texts), commentaries and explanations of lyrics, songs, vids, books, lesson plans.

Do not limit yourselves to the language side : i'd appreciate any musical analysis, howto about the different kinds of musical backgrounds found in the genre.

What I need are building blocks to be able to frame lessons and eventually, to give the kids the opportunity to do some down-home rapping.
posted by nicolin to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Probably the best place to start would be a rhyme dictionary. Thinking of rhymes is a skill that needs to be trained, and a rhyming dictionary is the best tool. I would couple that with Merriam-Webster, which has the clearest definitions of any online dictionary (in my opinion) and also has a great thesaurus, which is another great learning tool. It's great to have a killer rhyme, but it's better that it means what you think it means :)

Reading lyrics of favorite songs is another must. The new Yale Anthology of Rap is the best thing out there (by no means is it perfect) though it doesn't help much with comprehending local references. One exercise which could be fun would be to tell your students to try and put in a local reference of their own instead of the one in the lyrics.
posted by Kattullus at 8:06 AM on December 7, 2010


Wu Tang and Jay Z both have books that describe the inspiration for some of their lyrics and the references contained therein.

The problem I think you'll run into with using rap to teach ESL students is that rap is very heavy with slang, regionalisms, idioms, and other linguistic complexities that could be confusing for non-native speakers to interpret. Also since we're talking about ESL for kids, rap is far from the grammatical standards they will need to master in order to pass proficiency tests.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:37 AM on December 7, 2010


Talk with the folks at Zumix to see if they have any resources to share.

I have encountered a lot of "let's use rap/hip-hop to engage the kids" programs in my days in the non-profit sector, and Zumix is one of the few such programs with a clear vision and process.

rap is far from the grammatical standards they will need to master in order to pass proficiency tests

Depends whose raps. Common, KRS-One, Queen Latifah, Run-DMC, and many others have done a lot of strong raps in Standard American English.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:38 AM on December 7, 2010


What is the primary language of the students? I'd get them rapping in their primary language first. And the way you do that, is have them listen to rap that is in their primary language, and learn. Listen, rap-along, learn. Then start to try to construct raps in English. Challenge them to say what they said in their primary language, in English, and critique them.
posted by cashman at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2010


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