Songs, nursery rhymes and finger-plays are a common tradition in almost every culture. Learning these in English is an easy and special way to encourage your students’ language learning process.
Songs and chants are an important part of a culture’s heritage. Many English nursery rhymes, for example, have survived since the time of Shakespeare. We also use songs because research shows they help improve and extend vocabulary, awareness of sounds, rhythm, intonation and individual sounds of the English language. Songs and chants also help develop children’s ability to wait, listen, remember and predict. These are the foundation skills for literacy.
The process of learning a rhyme or song begins with the movements, gestures and visuals to help the children understand the general meaning. Next we can take individual words and concepts from these rhymes and use them in our classroom activities. Songs become the perfect jump off point to a world of learning.
The most important reason for using Nursery Rhymes is the enjoyment and social interaction that comes with learning them. They contribute to building a love of language learning that will last for years to come. Learn the words and actions of these rhymes and fingerplays and do them at home regularly with your children. They are easy to learn and incorporate into your daily routine.
Remember that enthusiasm is more important than a good singing voice. Your students will love to sing with you, no matter how you sound.
Some songs can be tricky so practice beforehand. You will find that many popular songs have videos on youtube with subtitles.
Most importantly, do not correct your child’s English as it may discourage them from participating.
Eye Contact, Gestures and Actions
My first tip is to make sure you can see and make eye contact with your child. While you sing, exaggerate your facial expressions and don’t forget to smile. You should keep gestures and actions simple and consistent. You’ll need to plan these beforehand. Lastly, don’t worry if your student doesn’t get them in the beginning. Keep going because they will eventually!
Keep it Fun
Make sure you never insist if you see your students are not in the mood. They may like to just watch, especially if it’s the first time you introduce the song. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested. Keep going and, just like with the gestures, they will join in eventually.
You can download a printable booklet for parents with these tips and 17 great songs, rhymes and finger-plays that my young learners love. I hope you do too!
If you are a Young Learner teacher and would like to continue developing your skills, you can join me online for the Oxford TEFL Teaching Young Learners’ course. Contact me via my website and I’d be happy to send you more information.