experiències recursos games listenings activities online news pissarra digital editorials, diccionaris i normativa infantil fòrum mail normativa accés fitxers l'autor

Using songs in the Primary ELT Classroom

Nick Dawson
Teacher Line. Número 7. Curso 1998-1999. Alhambra-Longman

(Extret del web del col·legi Erain del País Basc: http://www.erain.es)



When we 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?

Firstly, 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.

Secondly, when we think about using songs, we should think of their psychological and linguistic benefits rather than any value in communicative terms.

Thirdly, songs are an example of expresion and performance. They are a medium through which children can develop confidence, develope micro-skills and learn language.



The major 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.

Social participation

When singing 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.

Multi-level participation

Songs are 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.

Building confidence

The positive 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.

Memory (structure, tune, rhythm, rhyme sense)

The lyrics 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.


Pronunciation, stress, intonation, (psycho-motor skills)

A song 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.


Songs are 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).

Phrase learning

Children 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".


Rhythm and tune

Start by 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".


Teach the 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.

Chorus and dialogue

When children 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.


Making songs multisensory

Songs exist 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.

Songs and movement

A song 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.

Songs and pictures

Children 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).

Songs and words

Children 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 rhyme.

Songs and activities

There are many extention activities which can develope from a song. Here are two examples: making a carnival mask or making a puppet.

To sum 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.



Darrera Actualització: 20.10.2004