Teaching Songs and Chants in the Classroom (by Marsha Goren)
I am an American who has been teaching English in Israel for 32 years. I have found my work very challenging and rewarding as most children in Israel really strive to know English. I recently retired from the formal school system and am still working in an afternoon school program called “America English School.”
Normally, according to the ministry of education, regular classes start to acquire English as a second language in the fourth grade. However, many schools in Israel allow teachers to begin English in the second and third grade. Teachers usually teach the oral skills through games, drama, songs and visual aids. The written skills are usually taught at a later stage after the reading stages.
Children are normally very creative and especially talented in their oral skills. I began to take advantage of these skills by using songs and drama. These are two excellent ways to encourage all children but especially gifted ones. They especially enjoyed learning English through songs and they acquired many skills such as vocabulary and grammatical structures. More importantly they learned about different cultures through the music and their English has improved tremendously.
Everyone is aware of how important it is to know English. The whole world uses English as an international language. Children should be given the opportunities to stay on their own preferred paths to excellence. Since English is a very prestigious subject within the Israeli curriculum, it is vital to expose these children to a variety of opportunities for success.
Last year I decided to teach my fourth graders many of the curriculum subjects through different songs and chants. I saw the enthusiasm as many kids would remark that they would like to stay longer when the bell rang. I found the learners imitating the language and even the accent. The atmosphere was always relaxed and so much fun. This convinced me even more that the method was well worth the hard work and I decided that a large part of my lessons would be for teaching reading through songs and music.
YouTube is a phenomenal resource for finding great ways of teaching, and of course songs. I came across the GiggleBellies YouTube channel which offers wonderful songs on youtube and started teaching the songs.
I immediately realized how useful the songs could be for my ESL teaching and for others around the world. I contacted the creators and told them I had begun writing worksheets and although their DVD was basically for toddlers and small children I was sure it would be a hit. I began writing worksheets (17) and the GigggleBellies collaborated with me. There are different exercises and skills on each one according to the songs. I donated this unit which is now being used by thousands of children, educators and their parents around the world. I am including it here for all of the educators around the world to implement in their classes. These worksheets and songs will help improve listening and oral skills with your students and even for young learners. It will also stimulate creativity and assist in writing and reading skills. And more importantly children will acquire new vocabulary in an enjoyable way. It is a known fact that when children enjoy the learning process, their achievements also improve. Free worksheet unit can be downloaded here on the Gigglebellies website.
Last but not least, we sent the GiggleBellies a short movie of my fourth grade class singing. I invite you to watch it on YouTube here.
With over 108,000 views, we are honored and happy to share this movie with the cooperation of the GiggleBellies whom I have never met personally, only through the power of the Internet, enjoy!