For anyone who doesn't know Sylvia Duckworth, she is a French teacher in Canada experienced in using the AIM language learning program that places a strong emphasis on using the arts to build language structure. The core philosophy as far as I understand it is that language learning needs to be given an emotional context for it to become embedded.
This is easy if you are in the country where that language is spoken, hard if you aren't.
However using visual, aural and physical expression via gestures, movement, music and song, drama, storytelling, it is possible to speed up language acquisition and present the language in a fun, engaging context. If children like it, they'll learn it. Not an earth shattering concept but harder to achieve than say!
So, I have been casting an eye over some of the songs on Sylvia's Youtube channel and am picking out some songs that I think readers of this blog might like.
A big thank you to Sylvia for doing all of the powerpoints so well and for sharing them. Thank you to the composers for allowing them to be shared.
For the full caboodle, have a look at her site! A lot of potential for fun and meaningful language learning for new learners here I think!
John Demado's raps and songs for teaching at
Alain le Lait
All these songs display elements I have been trying to define that make them great songs :
- Great tunes/music - TOP OF THE LIST!
- A strong central idea that engages, a bit of a story not just a topic - this doesn't have to revolve around a person - Charlotte Diamond's 'Je suis une pizza' is a brilliant example! Things can be given a voice and a story too.
- Quirky humour that children will love - Charlotte Diamond getting personally manhandled by the Queen and kicked out of Buckingham Palace for complaining about the miniscule sarnies, brilliant! IMAGINATION has to be BIG in songs for kids!
- Seeing something from a child's point of view - John Demado's rap about feeling trapped in his house by having to do chores, the lament of countless generations of kids! Jack Grunsky writing a song based upon a single line that every parent knows, 'Look what I made for you at school today!'
- Repetition - the opportunity for children to repeat the lines in 'Je suis une pizza', the frequent repetitions in Alain le Lait's 'En voici' song, the chorus in Max Maxwell's song 'Oh le printemps' - these repeats give an entry point into a song - you can simply ask children to sing along with these to begin with and use the rest of the song for comprehension games, hold up a card when they hear 'x,y,z' etc.
- Use of rhythm to drive learning - Juli Power's inclusion of that part of her song where children are asked to count to 16 in time to the music. Sensing the 'pulse' of a song and keeping in time with it are essential musical skills.
For the more examples of songs, visit Sylvia's Youtube channel