teach a foreing language in the Primary classroom, our aim is to teach
language for communication. We hope that the children will learn English
so that they can communicate with other people. Songs are not a good
example of language for cummunication -normal people do not communicate
by singing to each other! So why do we use songs in the ELT classroom?
we should not make the mistake of confusing our destination with the
route for reaching the destination. Communication is our aim (our destination),
but language learning is the route to that destination.
when we think about using songs, we should think of their psychological
and linguistic benefits rather than any value in communicative terms.
songs are an example of expresion and performance. They are a medium
through which children can develop confidence, develope micro-skills
and learn language.
ARE THE PSICHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF USING SONGS?
benefit from using songs is at a psychological level. Children enjoy
singing songs. The value of the song comes through repetition. The song
becomes friendly, familiar and enjoyable experience.
a song, each child is part of a group. Singing together is an act of
social binding -a group of individuals becomes a single voice. Children
find psychological comfort in being part of a group.
stress.free. If a child is singing as part of a group, any errors in
her/his individual performance are covered by the other singers. Every
child is able to participate and every child is able to contribute.
psychological aspects of singing help to build children's confidence.
This is particulary true with the weakest learners. The song gives them
something which they can perform.
(structure, tune, rhythm, rhyme sense)
of a song are bound to the tune, the rhythm and the rhyme scheme. If
you remove a word from a song, it is very difficult to substitute it
with another word without destroying the rhythmic structure or rhyme
scheme of the song. This is why songs (poems) are so easy to remember.
ARE THE LANGUAGE BENEFITS OF USING SONGS?
stress, intonation, (psycho-motor skills)
is a pronunciation exercise. In learning a foreing language, children
need to learn new psycho-motor skills to produce sounds which are different
from their mother tongue. A song is an opportunity to develop and practise
these skills in a low-stress context.
so easy to learn that there is a danger that the children will learn
them as a sequence of sounds but will not learn or understand the meaning
of the words. It is therefore important that exercise material should
concentrate on the meaning (AFTER the song has been learnt).
do not learn words like bedroom and bathroom in isolation but in phrases:
in the bedroom or in the bathroom. The phrases are contrasted with "climbing
up the wall) or "on my slice of bread".
DO WE TEACH SONGS?
playing the cassette so children can hear the tune and rhythm. Play
it again and let the children clap (with two fingers against the palm
of their hands) to the rhythm. You can play the cassette a third time
with the children singing "da".
first line by speaking the words in the rhythm of the music. Get the
children to rapeat in the same way. Then sing the first line. Continue
with the following lines in the same way. Always return to the beginning
of the song and sing the lines up to (and including) the new line.
have learnt the words of a song, it is a good idea to give different
lines (or parts of lines) to different groups. This means that they
have to listen carefully to song their part at the correct time. This
increases the learning benefit from the song.
in two auditory forms (the tune and the sung words), in two visual forms
(the written words and music). Songs can be made more memorable and
more fun by extending the senses in which the songs are expressed.
with movement becom,es a dance. This can be in the traditional sense,
or simply movements added to the words of the song. For example the
song 2Head, shoulders, knees and toes", obviously links itself
to movement, but there is also a chance to add movement to other songs.
can ilustrate songs with pictures or specific lines from songs. Ypu
can also ask them to make cards to hold un (in place of words) when
singing the song. (this would work well with the ABC Song).
can obviously copy out words of a song. You can put blanks in the song
for children to fill with the correct word. For more advanced ones,
asking them to write a new line/verse for the song is a good creative
idea because they will have to think about the rhythm, word stress and
many extention activities which can develope from a song. Here are two
examples: making a carnival mask or making a puppet.
up, here are some key points to keep in mind. Teach long songs in smaller
sections; children cannot learn a long song in one lesson. Sing songs
frequently but not for too long. Exploit the music and words of the
song in as many ways as possible -especially movement. It must have
meaning for the children -don't allow the song to be just sound. Practice
saying the song in rhythm to concentrate on the sounds. And encourage
children to write and illustrate the songs they learn so they can make
their own songbook.