CNMN > Projects > Newcomer Youth Engagement Program : Music and Literacy

Jennifer Lang

  • Voix
  • Instruments acoustiques
  • Adultes

Each Friday for one hour from September until June

  • Éducation
  • Diversité

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

Pro­ject Outcomes :

  • 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
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