RSS Feed

Category Archives: Vocabulary

Using songs and chants in the YL classroom

Posted on

wpid-fb_img_1426189219067.jpgBoom Chicka Boom!

Thank you to those of you who attended my session at the IH Torun Teacher Training Day, April 18 2015. You will find a link to the handout at the bottom of this post.

Literature is full of references to the efficacy of music as a tool for both first and second language acquisition, but are songs and chants utilized as much as they could be in the second language learning classroom? I’ve loved singing and music for as long as I can remember, and been interested in using them in the classroom since I stepped foot in one.

How do you feel about using songs in the YL Classroom?

YL coursebooks are full of songs and chants. And why not? Using songs and chants as a pedagogical tool to teach children language is a natural and logical choice. Singing is a natural and popular medium for both parent and child and by the time children come to us in the second language learning classroom, they are often already equipped with a catalogue of songs, chants, and rhymes. Children live in musical worlds. In fact, according to research, babies as early as in the womb pay more attention to singing than speaking and it’s suggested that from very early ages there is little distinction between singing and speech.

Are you happy to sing? Why? Why not?

According to Trinick (2012), Lee believes songs are not being used as much as they should be in the classroom and suggests the root may be that they are viewed purely as entertainment, or that teachers lack understanding into the theoretical underpinnings or application and methodology. Could it be as Carless and Douglas (2011) surmise that the significance of the ubiquity of songs goes unnoticed? Trinick (2012) concurs and cites Tracey, ‘there is a tendency to overlook familiar, everyday materials and resources’. As Rogers (no date) attests, literature ‘abounds with positive statements regarding the efficacy of music as a vehicle for first and second language acquisition’. Indeed countless resource books for teachers, coursebooks, TESOL websites and blogs proffer advice, activities and encouragement*. *See handout link for resource list

Are you ruling the TEFL world Beyonce style in your classroom? Or are you pressing play on the CD and hoping for the best?

Maybe you do want to sing in class, and it’s not that you’re afraid to, but you just:

• can’t be bothered • don’t have time (you do one at the end of the lesson if you need to fill in time)

• aren’t sure what songs to sing

• aren’t sure how to sing the songs

• aren’t sure how to teach the songs

• have never done it before

• hate the songs in the coursebooks

• would rather teach grammar and other important things

• are actually a T-rex and therefore can’t sing. Or clap.

I urge you to think about using songs and chants in the YL classroom.

Why?

‘Children love rhythm, music and movement, and it is widely recognised that the use of rhymes, chants and songs contribute to young children’s overall social, linguistic, physical, cognitive and emotional development. When starting to learn a foreign language, rhymes, chants and songs play a special role in drawing children into producing language in ways which are natural, spontaneous and enjoyable. As well as enhancing children’s learning and acquisition of language, the use of rhymes chants and songs promotes the development of positive attitudes and motivation towards learning a foreign language in both immediate and longer term. Give their many potential benefits for learning, there is a strong case for making rhymes, chants and songs a fully integrated component of any programme to learn English.’

(Read 2007)

How?

It’s all about confidence, enthusiasm and having fun. Songs and chants are perfect for the YL classroom as they present language in a fun and memorable way and allow our students to experiment with the sounds of English. Many teachers, however, despite being fully aware of the potential of songs and chants fall a little short because they lack the confidence to pull it off in the classroom. Confidence and enthusiasm is key. Students need to know the teacher feels good about the song in order for them to. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a little off key and no Mariah Carey. Chances are your students won’t notice or will feel more comfortable knowing you are normal just like them. What will stop your students joining in is if they see you aren’t 100% comfortable. It’s fine to have a CD player for back up. But don’t rely on it, and whatever you do don’t stand at the front of the class lip syncing and conducting (but not actually singing) expecting them to do all the work. If you are enthusiastic and singing along you are more likely to get them to join in.

Want to know more?

You can read my 5 tips for using songs in my YL Column in the next issue of the IH Journal here ihjournal.com

You can get a handout on Using Songs and Chants in the YL Classroom here Boomchickaboom_handout_April2015

I’d love to know how you feel about using songs and chants in the YL classroom.

Until next time!

CARLESS, David and DOUGLAS, Kitrina (2011). What’s in a song? how songs contribute to the communication of social science research. British journal of guidance & counselling, 39 (5), 439-454.

READ, Carol (2007). 500 activities for the primary classroom. Oxford, Macmillan. Macmillan Books for Teachers.

TRINICK, Robyn Margaret (2012). Sound and sight: The use of song to promote language learning. General music today, 25 (2), 5-10.

Boom Chicka Boom!

I recently got to do my favourite all time sessions, not once, but twice! First at the ‘Young Ones’ Conference at ILC Brno and then at the SCIO project conference here in Prague.

Boom Chicka Boom: Using Songs and Chants in the YL Classroom is a session I’ve done quite a few times now. I mix it up a bit each time, but the principles remain the same. Each time I do it it gets a great response and people request slides and handouts. Until now I didn’t have a handout. Drum roll….here it is!

Boomchickaboom_ handout October2014

I’m also uploading the powerpoints

boom chicka boom BRNO 2014

boom chicka boom SCIO 2014

I’ve added some resources to the bottom of the handout. Please share more in the comments if you have them. I have a little project up my sleeve and hoping to collect as many resources and links as I can.

Until next time…

boomchickaboom

Kaboom! IH Palermo is da bomb

In case you didn’t already know, Jonny Ingham from IH Palermo has a fantastic blog called Recipes for the EFL classroom.

Jonny recently posted a great guest post from his YL Coordinator, Jenny Holden, on establishing routines in the YL classroom

While I was looking around his blog, I found all sorts of fabulous practical ideas, but got very excited when I came upon this little beauty….

Kaboom!.

There’s nothing I love more than a simple activity that is versatile, and requires no fuss, no photocopying. Just a marker and a whiteboard or flip chart etc and away you go. The possibilities are endless with this one.

Thanks for sharing, Jonny and thanks for your blog.

 

Until next time….

Kylie

What’s in a word?

One concept – many ways…

I recently attended IHTOC3. The International House Teachers’ Online Conference. A biannual event and the third of its kind since it’s inception – organised by IHWO superstars Neil McMahon and Shaun Wilden. This time around it was available and free for all (not just IH staff) and we were treated to two full days of fantastic sessions including a closing plenary from the fabulous Jeremy Harmer.Image

As well as thoroughly enjoying being a participant, on the Saturday I moderated one of the sessions, and on the Friday I gave my own session on Social Media and YL.

Something interesting happened during a number of sessions. Something almost as interesting as the (very exciting) launch of ‘MY Words’, the new IHWO App for students (check it out, seriously, check it out, it’s very cool). Participants picked up on certain words, got quite excited about them, and just ran with it. For example, during Shaun Wilden‘s (great) session, we all loved and got carried away over the word chimping (who doesn’t love a word that is new and sounds silly?) and during my session many commented on my use of the word ubiquitous when describing social media. At first I was taken aback as I thought the word itself was ubiquitous and didn’t get why it was singled out. After all, it’s not new or funny like ‘chimping’? But then I remembered the concept of ‘favourite words’.

We all have favourite words don’t we? Words that sound funny, sound nice, mean something nice, or just look good on paper. I’ve always like the words ‘fabulous’ and ‘splendid’, as to me, the word fabulous sounds fabulous when you say it and the word splendid sounds splendid when you say it. I also have words I hate. Crisps. Eww! I hate saying it. I hate hearing it. I hate the way it looks on paper. I much prefer the Aussie ‘chips’.

Every year I do a Vocabulary workshop for new teachers at IH Prague. At the beginning of the workshop I ask the teachers to write down their favourite word on a slip of paper (an idea I got from Shaun Wilden many years ago). I then use those words to demonstrate a whole range of vocabulary activities and games to use in class. Every year it’s fun. But 2 years ago was the best. 2 years ago the favourite word belonging to one of the teachers was new to many of us. It sounded funny, it had an explanation that made many of us blush, and it was promptly followed by an array of interesting uses, conjugations and jokes etc.  Participants couldn’t get enough of using this ‘funny & new’ word. In fact, many of the teachers still joke and laugh about it. (The word was clunge – thank you, your awesomess, aka Perran).

Since words are so ubiquitous and so much fun, I’ve decided to write a post for you to chimp around, with some basic ideas for every age group to help us take advantage of our fascination with words.

Favourite word (4-8)

ImageThe lower end of this age group won’t necessarily understand the concept of ‘favourite word’ in the same way we do, but they appreciate things that sound funny.

Get each learner to choose their favourite English word.

Choose a simple nursery Rhyme e.g. Baa Baa Black Sheep or London Bridge

Children sing the song repeating the ‘favourite word’ throughout. I once had a 7 yr old who loved the word ‘hat’ he loved saying it over and over and loved drawing hats on everything. Any team games he wanted the team name ‘hat’ or ‘Mr hat’.

So his song would be…

(To the tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep)

Hat Hat Hat Hat hat-hat-hat-hat HAT! Hat-Hat Hat-Hat Hat Hat HAT!

Mine might be…

Fabulous Fabulous Fabu fabu fabulous, fabulous fabulous fab fab fabulous!

The whole class sings each song, then the next child’s song and the next until each child’s word song has been sung.

WHY? The children will like the repetition, they’ll like to hear their own song, it’s a nice way to experiment with the sounds of English, it’s fun and most of all it’s silly! and who doesn’t love silly?

Favourite word (6-10)

This age group is more likely to understand the concept of having a favourite word, but might be lacking the linguistic knowledge and skills to use it. This age group generally love drawing and being creative, so why not utilize that.

GetImage the students to ‘draw’ their favourite word. They can make big posters using decorative lettering or pictures (e.g. use drawings of snakes to letter the word snakes) or they can draw pictures around the word. They could even write their favourite word over and over again to make a picture.

Students can give presentations about their favourite word. They can ‘teach’ the class their word – pronunciation, spelling etc. You could have a spelling bee with all the favourite words?

Put all the posters on the wall.Image

Encourage other students to use the ‘favourite words’ when giving examples of language in other lessons. e.g. ‘I like snakes’ ‘I saw a snake’ ‘Snakes can’t run’ etc

Why not use a program like wordle and put all the students favourite words into a poster.

‘Favourite words can be updated each week, month, unit of the class book, semester… Whatever suits.

WHY? It gets the learners interested in words. The shape of words, the way they look and sound and that they can be fun.

Favourite word (8-12)

8 to 12 yr olds are more likely to be able to use favourite words and have some fun with them, but why not use their ‘favourite word’ to teach other words?

Students write (their own) sentences using new vocabulary learnt in a lesson.

They then replace the new vocabulary with their ‘favourte word’.

Students read out their sentences (or write them on the board) for the rest of the class to get the ‘hidden word’. e.g. if my favourite word is ‘monkey’, can you guess the ‘hidden words’ below?

A tiger can monkey fast, but it can’t monkey

Yesterday I went monkeying at the beach.

I like to monkey TV

She monkeys a book every night.

You can chose not to conjugate the favourite word as it often doesn’t make sense – see above. But I find the students like it more when it doesn’t make sense and like to play around with the endings.

WHY? It’s a fun way to practice using words.

Favourite word (12-18 and beyond)

Get the students to write their favourite word down on a small square of paper and there you have it. A million and one potential vocabulary activities. The ideas are only limited to your imagination.

1. Get the students to write 3 words they associate with that word and play taboo

2. Get students to mingle and describe their word and other students must guess it.

3. Get students to tell each other why it’s their favourite word.

4. Students write description for a class crossword to exchange with another class.

5. Students are given a topic to talk about for one minute (randomly) then either their own favourite word or another students. While they speak they must include the ‘favourite word’ (which should be unknown at this point). The rest of the class tries to guess what the word is.

6. Get students to teach the class their word including all aspects of it e.g. meaning, use, pronunciation, spelling, part of speech, C vs U word families, synonyms,antonyms, idioms using the word…the list goes on

7. Pexeso (Pelmanism). My favourite. All cards (words on paper) are face down and shuffled around.  Students choose two pieces and turn them over. To win the pair students must use both words in a sentence.

If you have teen favourite words (or new teachers’) you’re likely to get some funny and interesting ones and this activity can be challenging and good for a laugh. During my ‘clunge’ workshop, one poor teacher turned over ‘scarlet’ (the colour of my face at this point) and ‘sphincter’ (and the new teachers seemed like such a nice lot). The poor teacher who’d turned these words over was Czech and had never heard either of these words.I don’t think she’ll forget them in a hurry.

WHY? Personalising a lesson with favourite words creates interest, prompts discussions, and paves the way for memorable moments. It facilitates learning and it’s fun.

There is (almost) nothing better than having students interested in words. Learning new words. Remembering new words. Using new words. Right?

So why not start using favourite words in class? and don’t forget to get your students to download the new IHWO My Words APP to record all these new words.

Until next time….

%d bloggers like this: