Summer 2017


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Maggie Struck

Content Expert

Cheryl Giddings


In Minnesota, the state standards require that all students, including English learners of all proficiencies, demonstrate knowledge of complex academic and content vocabulary. This can pose obvious problems for students with limited English proficiency. Research has shown that music and gestures can play an integral part in the retention of difficult vocabulary. It can also increase a student’s motivation, while building their confidence and minimizing their anxiety. Furthermore, music can create solidarity in the classroom. Many teachers, though at times intimidated by its implementation, agree that using music in the classroom can enhance learning and increase retention. That being said, there are few resources that teach the content specific tier-2 and tier-3 vocabulary which early elementary English language learners need to master in order to be competitive with their monolingual, grade-level peers. This project evaluates what experts in education and language acquisition have said about using music as a vehicle for teaching English learners. It also scrutinizes learning units that incorporate music to teach English. Moreover, it includes four songs aligned to the MN first-grade content and English learner WIDA standards, a brochure with lyrics and a video showing teachers how to use the gestures. Pairing music with TPR (gestures) to teach early elementary English learners vocabulary has been proven to be an effective tool that not only helps with retention and increases engagement but also decreases anxiety while building solidarity in the classroom. Teachers’ apprehension stemming from using music in the classroom will subside when using these resources, as they are straightforward and easily accessible to all educators.

Project Type



Curriculum, ESL/ ELLs, Multiple Intelligences, Music

Included in

Education Commons