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!

1. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

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.

 

2. Do You Like Broccoli Ice Cream?

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.

 

3. E-I-E-I-O (Old McDonald)

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!

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Sara FernandesAneita WZhang, EffyApril MackMia Recent comment authors
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Abbey
Consultant
Abbey

It would be great if videos could be included here. Cheers 🙂

April Mack
Consultant
April Mack

What if I can’t really sing 😢

Eric Horan
Consultant
Eric Horan

Old McDonald is a great song and very catchy for the kids.

Nay
Consultant
Nay

I am a litte teapot should be next!

Stacy
Consultant
Stacy

Love that one 🙂😉

Mia
Consultant
Mia

The first one is prob not suitable for online teaching, i mean touching the toes?? Could change the lyrics to sth else though

Cassie Hough
Consultant
Cassie Hough

The wheels on the bus is my fav haha

Lucas M
Consultant
Lucas M

Loveeeeeee super simple song.

Will
Consultant
Will

Kids love songs, hands down

Fiona
Consultant
Fiona

Not sure how to play the song in the classroom though…anyone knows?

Aneita W
Consultant
Aneita W

RRRROW rrrow your boat.

Sara Fernandes
Consultant
Sara Fernandes

I love to sing!