The Seoul English Songs Project is a small voluntary group of undergraduate and graduate students and Korean and native English-speaking English teachers currently or formerly of the Seoul campuses of Myongji University and Hankook University of Foreign Studies.
We work together to produce better alternative English teaching materials by adapting and translating English-language materials that were not originally made for teaching English into forms that are meaningful and interesting for the Korean EFL classroom. Most often we work with songs, especially traditional folk songs from the native English-speaking countries, and sometimes with poems and prose that would exemplify the history, culture, and society of those countries.
Time was taken to teach each song to an original translator(s) to achieve a thorough understanding of the meaning. The original translation was then passed on to a higher level for review, and then back to the translator(s) again for consideration and revision. Each song has been reviewed in this way at least twice, by different bilingual native speakers of Korean. Finally, a pre-publication review was done to find further room for improvements in Korean reading fluency (the "smoothness" of Korean usage). This exhaustive translation process, accomplished gradually over a long period of time, has reduced any perceived shortcomings in translation to a matter of only subjective opinion.
Leading your students in song promotes a bonding within the class that few other classroom activities can match. Korean students who would be too shy to speak up individually in class, especially girls, can raise their voices in song with the rest of the class. Practice in speaking lyrics and singing songs gives students a feeling of proficiency that bolsters their confidence in language acquisition, which in turn better prepares them for acquiring conversational English, to a greater degree than using classroom conversation alone. Grammar chants and made-for-the-grammar-lesson songs are useful but have none of the social, cultural, or historical appeal of real songs in the target language.
This is a balanced collection with songs varying in length, difficulty, mood, and theme. So, choose accordingly.
Folk music, in its pure form, is music with a long oral tradition that has no known author. Acoustic music from the 1960s and later is also known as folk music. Webster defines folk music as the "traditional and typically anonymous music that is an expression of the life of the people in a community." Folk music is music that has become part of a people's heritage through oral tradition. Because of its oral tradition folk music is fluid. Variations in both tune and melody developed as music was passed orally through counties and countries.
Folk songs are important both musically and historically as they define some part of a people's experience and become a part of a people's culture.
Spirituals are an integral part of the folk genre of the western world. No collection of folk songs would be balanced or representative without them. This volume contains a variety of some of the most well known spirituals.
Spirituals are often thought of as part of the African-American experience, traditionally called negro spirituals , but here they are treated more broadly and inclusively, as any folk song that has as its primary theme a religious message, whether the cultural origin is African or European. Indeed, both the European and African folksong traditions are replete with religious themes and imagery.
Spirituals can be thought of as hymns that are sung outside of church. The line between spirituals and hymns is often blurred, and whether a spiritual is sung as part of a church service depends on the tradition of that church.