How to use songs to teach 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 easily become bored or distracted. They are great for adding motivation and excitement to your class routine!
Integrating language through songs
Children hear complete sentences when they listen to songs; This helps them learn and remember words and phrases as they subconsciously grasp grammar and syntax. It leads them to naturally use their new vocabulary in context rather than single syllables or words.
Repeat through songs
Songs that “ get stuck ” in students’ heads lead to a constant cycle of learning: the more they listen to the song and think about it, the easier it will be for them to learn all the words and their meanings. Songs are a great and exciting alternative to standard reading comprehension, as they allow the child to be actively involved.
Better classroom management with ESL songs
Songs in English can also help calm an exciting or disturbing class; just turn on the music and you’ll be amazed how quickly the kids will calm down. They can also bring a new zest for life and confidence to a group of struggling and overwhelmed students. Just announce a time to sing and watch the students light up with interest.
Songs to teach English cover all learning styles
Language is one of the most complex subjects and English one of the most complex languages. Songs help teachers appeal to a wider range of learning styles:
Auditory learners easily learn from songs – rhythm and phrasing provide the perfect vehicle for teaching vocabulary and pronunciation, as well as for pronouncing words in context.
Kinesthetic and tactile learners can benefit from actions added to songs; work with melody, rhythm, and lyrics to provide actions that help these students absorb knowledge in the way that makes the most sense to them.
Visual learners can be helped with story pictures or vocabulary cards related to the song, as well as observing other students and participating in 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 within the group; Rather than being selected, they can listen and participate at their own pace, join when they can, and learn from the group around them. They can feel comfortable as everyone else is concentrating on the lesson as well, gradually building the courage to add new words to their vocabulary and work on their pronunciation naturally.
The fact that the songs are fun means that your students will be motivated to work harder before singing time. Singing is an energetic activity that will easily catch the students’ attention, especially if the hand and body movements are implemented.
Songs can be a great memory aid; the melody and movements make it easy to remember words, and the context provided aids in the correct use of grammar and syntax. Songs have a strange way of ‘sticking in the head’, and in the case of English learners, this is a wonderful thing.
Barriers to Using Songs to Teach English
Many songs in English are too fast and complex to use as a teaching tool. If words are pronounced so fast that children cannot tell them apart, it will take too many repetitions to try to decipher the letter, leading to frustration and defeat.
Also, the average English song has too many words to realistically learn, and the words will vary widely in difficulty. If the words are too difficult, you have the same problem as mentioned above: playing the song over and over again while the students fidget and overwhelm.
One more obstacle is that many popular English songs contain content that could be inappropriate for children or offensive to different cultures. So how do you overcome these obstacles?
Choose and implement songs to teach English
Finding the right songs to use in your classroom is critical. Those with too many words, too fast a melody, or difficult to understand context will only confuse students. This will completely destroy any positive benefits the songs may have and demoralize your students as they will fail rather than succeed.
What you really need are songs that have been custom designed for teaching English as a second language. Save ordinary English songs for background music while you do other activities or games, and choose something repetitive with simple words and phrases to sing along.
You can start teaching vocabulary with flashcards. This is a good approach for young children (3-4 years old). Once they start to recognize the words, you can introduce the key grammar and begin to use the new vocabulary in the context of sentences and / or sentences.
Continue with the listening games to practice vocabulary. Even if your students may not understand all the words at this point, previews like this will gradually move them from simply ‘listening’ to actively ‘listening’ and help when it comes time to listen carefully to the song for the first time.
Use language games to help you focus children’s attention on certain words. They can run and jump on a flashcard of a noun when they hear it in song, or clap each time they hear a word from a group of words that have been pinned to the wall.
Take it easy when using songs to teach English, especially with younger and less experienced students. Play the song two or three times and then save it until the next lesson. Divide the song 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 learned an entire verse, then the entire song. This may require several lessons.
Make up actions that go with the words and implement them in the song. Your students can be a valuable resource here – children’s imaginations are filled with inspiration! With elementary students, once the song has been learned, it can be performed and then reserved for an occasional review. The letters can always be used later for spelling, reading and writing activities.