Classroom Activities: HipHop and Language

The celebrities Ying Yang Twins and singer May...
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Last year, Drs. Anne Charity Hudley and Christine Mallinson published a book on how to address language variation in the classroom (Understanding English Language Variation in US Schools).  One of their suggestions:  having students translate the language of hip hop or rap songs into the kind of language you typically see in the classroom.  Of course, the subject material in the songs you use for this project would have to be appropriate for the age of the students, but the activity is great.  

In fact, there are lots of ways that you can use song lyrics in the classroom.  Many of my colleagues at Old Dominion University, for example, use them as an introduction to poetry.  Last week, I used song lyrics to talk about the gender roles in my graduate Language and Gender class.  In my 200 level writing class, I have two students doing similar analyses on songs by Jay-Z and the Ying Yang Twins.  

Song lyrics (and people’s reactions to them) can tell us a lot about language and society.  Here’s a link to an academic conference on this very issue at the University of Texas San Antonio next month:

http://www.utsa.edu/wsi/hiphop.html

Check it out for even more ideas. 

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About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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One Response to Classroom Activities: HipHop and Language

  1. Pingback: Classroom Language

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