Three Great Songs for Teaching ESL to Kids
Need to get your ESL students up and moving?
Your lessons lacking a bit of a punch?
Try teaching through song!
Of course, just singing a song isn’t enough. But by working a song into a well-crafted lesson plan, you can present new information in an exciting and interesting way that kids are sure to remember. This is a particularly useful way of teaching new thematic vocabulary words.
It’s generally a good idea to teach vocabulary thematically at any rate. Teaching thematic vocabulary allows a teacher to present relatively few sentence structures that give students the tools to express themselves using their new words. Using songs along the way to present these vocabulary words allows students to have fun while they’re acquiring this new vocabulary.
Click on the title to check the Youtube sample video!
Who doesn’t know this playground song? “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is a great way to teach body parts to kids. It only presents eight words, which is a very reasonable jumping-off point for a new lesson.
Start off by singing with them. As you continue, just do the actions while they sing. The children will remember the words and fill in the blanks for you. Avoid over-correcting during singing. If you do hear severe mispronunciation, feel free to join back in for a round or two to provide some gentle corrections.
After the vocabulary is acquired both orally and textually, pass out outlines of bodies and ask them to color them and label them.
The song not only introduces terms for several different foods — mainly fruits and vegetables — but it has a built-in format for teaching a useful phrase: “Do you like…?”
Students not only learn how to answer the question in the affirmative and the negative, but they also acquire the words “yum” and “yuck,” which are particularly fun for them to use. (Be careful not to let this get out of hand in class!)
Once students have acquired the foods presented in the song, you can use the same format to present new food vocabulary simply by changing the words of the song or creating new stanzas.
There are many songs that are great for introducing animal vocabulary to kids, but perhaps none is so perfect for the purposes of an ESL teacher than “Old McDonald.” The benefit of choosing this song in particular is that “Old McDonald” allows the teacher (and eventually, the student!) to decide what animals old McDonald has on his farm. In other words, you can use this song to present any animal vocabulary you would like to teach, even animals that do not appear on a farm.
Before teaching this lesson, be sure to brush up on your animal sound onomatopoeia… it can be very easy to forget one when a student volunteers an animal. Of course, there are some that you won’t be able to come up with, like rabbit or rat. When a student volunteers one of these animals, ask for suggestions from the other students for the sound (or movement) that the animal would do.
Many other songs can be used to create lesson plans. Keep in mind how you’ll isolate the vocabulary in the song after presenting it to the class so that the individual words are acquired as well as the overall song. Once you’ve planned this out, nearly any song can be used to teach in this way!