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How to Use Songs For Teaching English
ESL teachers can use songs to teach English to their students with great success. ESL songs can bring energy to the classroom, increase student confidence, and provide a much-needed active learning experience for younger students who can be easily bored or distracted. They are great for adding motivation and excitement to your classroom routine!
Language integration through songs
Children hear whole sentences when they hear songs; this helps them learn and remember words and phrases as they subconsciously pick up on grammar and syntax. It leads them to naturally use their new vocabulary in context instead of isolated syllables or words.
Repetition through Songs
Songs that “stick” in your students’ heads lead to a constant cycle of learning – the more they hear the song and think, the easier it will be for them to learn all the words and their meaning. Songs are a great and exciting alternative to standard reading comprehension because they allow the child to become actively involved.
Better classroom management with ESL Songs
English songs can also help calm an excitable or disruptive class – just put on the music and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the children settle down. They can also bring a new taste of life and confidence to a group of struggling and overwhelmed students. Just announce a singing time, and watch the students light up with interest.
Songs for teaching English cover all learning styles
Language is one of the most complex subjects, and English is one of the most complex languages. Songs help teachers appeal to a wider range of learning styles:
Auditory learners learn easily from songs – the rhythm and phrasing provide the perfect vehicle for teaching vocabulary and pronunciation, as well as providing words in context.
Kinesthetic and tactile learners can benefit from the actions added to the songs; work with melody, rhythm and song to provide actions that help these students absorb knowledge in a way that makes more sense to them.
Visual learners can be helped by story pictures or vocabulary sheets related to the song, as well as by watching other students and joining in the actions that match the different words.
Songs Build confidence and make learning fun
ESL songs give children the opportunity to learn at their own pace in the group – instead of being picked on, they can listen and participate at their own speed, joining in when they can and learning from the group around them. They can feel comfortable since everyone else is also concentrating on the lesson, and slowly build up the courage to add new words to their vocabulary and work on their pronunciation naturally.
The fact that the songs are fun means your students will be motivated to work harder in anticipation of singing time. Singing is an energetic activity that will easily capture the attention of students, especially if hand and body movements are implemented.
Songs can be great memory aids; the melody and movements make it easier to remember the words, and the context provides help in the correct use of grammar and syntax. Songs have a strange way of “getting stuck in your head,” and in the case of English learners, that’s a wonderful thing.
Barriers to using songs for teaching English
Many English songs are too fast and complex to be used as a teaching tool. If the words are spoken so fast that children cannot differentiate between them, it takes too many repetitions to try to decipher the words, leading to frustration and defeat.
Also, the average English song has too many words to learn realistically, and the words will vary greatly in difficulty. If the words are too hard, you have the same problem as stated above – playing the song over and over as the students become restless and overwhelmed.
Another obstacle is that many popular English songs contain content that could be inappropriate for children or could be offensive to different cultures. So how do you overcome these obstacles?
Selection and Implementation of Songs for Teaching English
Finding the right songs to use in your classroom is critical. Those with too many words, a melody that is too fast, or a context that is difficult to understand will only confuse your students. This will completely destroy all the positive benefits that the chants could have and demoralize your students because they will fail instead of succeed.
What you really need are songs that have been made specifically for teaching ESL. Save the run of the mill English songs for background music while doing other activities or games, and choose something repetitive with simple words and phrases for sing-along time.
You can start teaching vocabulary with flashcards. This is a good approach for children (3-4 years old). When they start to recognize words, you can introduce key grammar and start using the new vocabulary in the context of sentences and/or phrases.
Play listening games to practice vocabulary. Even if your students don’t understand all the words at this point, previews like this will gradually move them from just “listening” to actively “listening” and will help when the time comes to listen to the song carefully for the first time. again
Use language games to help focus children’s attention on particular words. They can run and jump on a flashcard of a noun when they hear it in the song, or clap every time they hear a word out of a group of words that have been posted on the wall.
Take it slow when using songs to teach English, especially with younger and less experienced students. Play the song two or three times, then leave it until the next lesson. Break the song down line by line or phrase by phrase until you find the level your students are comfortable with, then gradually build on each line until you have a full verse, then the whole song. This may take several lessons.
Do the actions to go with the words and implement them in the song. Your students can be a valuable resource here – children’s imaginations hold a wealth of inspiration! With elementary students, once the song has been learned, it can be performed and then set aside for occasional review. The texts can still be used later for spelling, reading and writing activities.
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