Orff Shulwerk as a pedagogical tool for the effective teaching of Italian to upper primary students in Western Australia

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title



Australian Federation of Modern Language Teachers Associations


School of Education / Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research




Paolino, A. & Lummis, G. W. (2015). Orff Shulwerk as a pedagogical tool for the effective teaching of Italian to upper primary students in Western Australia. Babel, 50(1), 13-23.


The use of songs and music in the Languages classroom is common practice. Research literature contains positive statements about music as a cognitive, linguistic and affective enhancer. Music and Languages risk becoming marginalised in the Western Australian curriculum due to curriculum pressures. Reduction of time in these learning areas could lead to students being denied the opportunity to develop many social, cognitive, educational and neurological benefits that they provide. Therefore, there is a need for teachers to become 'interdisciplinarians', and to consider ways to work with two or more subjects together for enhanced student learning. The Orff-Schulwerk approach to music learning is multisensorial.The student 'feels the music' in their body and experiments with it before they use it. If Language teachers allow their students to 'feel the language' this will enhance the understanding of the relationships between speaking and reading, and between speaking and writing. Current research provides evidence that music is a valuable tool in the learning of a second language. The concern is that music may only be used as a program supplement. This study investigates whether songs and music are being used as pedagogical tools in the teaching of Italian in Western Australia's primary schools. The study introduced primary teachers of Italian to the Orff- Schulwerk approach and asked them to pilot the approach for eight weeks in one of their upper primary Italian classrooms. Teachers were asked to consider its potential for the teaching of Italian in the upper primary context.This is a qualitative study, using questionnaires, interviews and focus groups to provide multiple sources of data, involving schools, teachers of Italian and students learning Italian in Western Australian classrooms.

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