Feat No 7: “I’ m singing in the “… home, morning, classroom, bath, entrance or exit of your school, celebrations, and anywhere else you can teach while having fun!!!

I have always considered myself a “Show Woman” type of teacher, meaning that I am very, correction, extremely enthusiastic and expressive when teaching. I enjoy making the lesson fun along with educative and also encouraging. I like turning something small into a big deal for our students; a huge achievement!

I am like that as a mother, too. I sometimes tend to overdo it, like Ms Frizzle from Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus, literally even dressing up according to the event or activity, but I love doing so.

What has been an essential tool for these in-house and school events are songs: Rhymes, traditional children’s songs, course book songs, songs from educational DVDs, songs from several audio storybooks, even songs from our own childhood.

Both my children and students are proof that songs have helped our lessons grandly throughout the eight years of being a mother and seventeen years of being an English language teacher:

* Our students, who are non-native speakers, have learnt words and phrases unbelievably fast and easily just by singing to these educationally fun rhythms

* Our students, who are native speakers, have realized the exact meaning or articulation of a word while singing

* My children have not just experienced everything above mentioned, but have also expressed an opinion on a song. I will never forget when I was singing the lullaby:

Hush-a-bye baby, on the tree top,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock,

When the bough breaks the cradle will fall….

And all of a sudden, four years after listening to this exact lullaby from beginning to end, Maggie, shocked, gets up from her bedtime pose and asks me to change the ending of the song on the spot. That it is not proper to sing the lullaby as it is. So from then on, to this day, …

… In mommy’s arms,

Maggie & Nicholas shall sleep …

is the new ending to that all-time classic. And Nicholas, being three-and-a-half today, has yet to hear Maggie’s forbidden version of the lullaby!

* Our students and my children practised and improved their skills in colours, numbers, letters, pronunciation and so many other topics.

* Under our family roof, this does not just apply to English, but to all three languages the children speak. And yet again, we have invested in providing them with equal language opportunities even in the audio sector.

* Children’ s interest and love in learning a language increases vertically through songs and the younger they are the more frequently you can use them during a lesson. I learnt this very well in my early years of teaching when I was responsible for the English Language at a private Nursery / Kindergarten in Greece for 7 years. They were aged three and a half to five and a half, were learning English as a Second language and were among the most productive projects I have ever done. Educational children’s songs were among my basic and best tools. We had even managed to put on plays including English songs. Some parents had even congratulated us as they felt their children spoke and sang the English performance better than their native language Greek play.

* In order for the songs to produce results, the teachers must have fun too while performing them! While enjoying them. While teaching them. While reenacting them and even reinventing them!

* There is another aspect to songs. Music itself. Being a former dancer (ballet – jazz – tap) I know the majestic essence of classical music. In our former school, The Loras English Academy, we tried something. In the hallways of the school, we would play classical music at a very low volume during lesson time. Teachers, students and parents gave us nothing but excellent feedback. During the breaks we would pause it.

* This is also applied at our home just before bedtime. After having studied two books on young children and pleasant sleep solutions (New Toddler Taming, by Dr Christopher Green and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley) and doing my best to adjust all this information to our family’s schedule and personality, we listen to classical music before the children fall asleep; at a very low volume. This even helps us parents calm down so as not to transmit any of our hyperactivity or stress on to our children.

* Music and songs have been used by us as English teachers with older students as well. Productivity in the classroom at its best, as excellently described by Vicky Loras through her blog post Born in The USA. Carefully selected lyrics from popular contemporary adult songs offer several teaching and learning opportunities.

I am very happy that I even remember songs I learned at school in Canada when I was a child. I sing them to both Maggie and Nicholas and they love them a lot. Not just as songs but also because they find it amazing that Mom used to be a child, too!

And while we listen to classical music, bedtime would not be complete without a story book!

Feat No 8 will take you to Story Land, books and all their wonders… in – house and at school!

Loras Academy 2(1)

Maggie singing at The Loras English Academy Summer Celebration 2007

References:

Green, C. (2006). New Toddler Taming. London, UK: Vermilion.

Pantley, E. (2005). The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers. USA: McGraw-Hill.

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10 thoughts on “Feat No 7: “I’ m singing in the “… home, morning, classroom, bath, entrance or exit of your school, celebrations, and anywhere else you can teach while having fun!!!

  1. swisssirja February 23, 2013 at 09:36 Reply

    Wow, what a beautiful picture! I was hooked at once 🙂
    As for the post, yes, yes, and yes! To begin with, the songs – I guess we can’t emphasize enough HOW important and powerful songs are when it comes to language learning. I still remember almost all the songs we did when I was teaching young learners. And how much they loved it. I remember how excited they got when I asked them to enter the bus 😉 They knew immediately that we were going to do the wheels of the bus song and it was a major hit!
    When it comes to my own kids (who are not as bilingual as I would love them to be…) then I have noticed too how they register lines from songs so quickly. We would watch an Estonian musical on TV and for days and weeks after I would overhear them hum and sing short extracts in Estonian, yuhuuu!

    And last but by far not the least – the beginning of your post 🙂 made me smile from ear to ear. I guess we would make a crazy duo because I LOVE acting and doing crazy things in front of my classes. I find classrooms so invigorating I get boosts of energy that knock me off my feet…I guess I wouldn’t lie if I say I am absolutely HAPPY in class!

    Have a beautiful weekend, best of luck with Sunday’s event and CU soon!

  2. Eugenia Loras February 23, 2013 at 12:43 Reply

    And I hope you and your family are always Happy, Sirja! Thank you very much for your personal feedback and let’s meet soon to …sing together one day! Hahahaha!

    Thank you very much and have a great weekend, too,
    Eugenia

  3. […] days ago I read Eugenia’s another wonderful post on raising bilingual (no, trilingual, no wait, was there more?!) kids. She talked about using songs […]

  4. Carmen Arias Blázquez February 26, 2013 at 16:58 Reply

    Oh Eugenia ,this is simply great. I have been following your posts through Vicky’s Facebook and I can’t do anything but follow up your children progress and how lucky they have for having been born in such a commited multilingual family!
    Regarding music, I couldn’ t agree more, including all kind of music as a trigger for learning English without real awareness you are doing so. Here I share a post I wrote about this dealing with a particularly tricky age range – preteens http://ateacherincyberland.blogspot.com.es/2013/01/should-we-be-grateful-to-1d.html
    Eager to read Feat. 8 send you all the best!
    Carmen

  5. Eugenia Loras February 26, 2013 at 21:27 Reply

    Thank you very very much Carmen! And congratulations on your post! Thank you very much for sharing it.
    Thank you for all your support!
    Wishing all the best to you and your family,
    Eugenia

  6. […] of songs, for children though, Feat No 7 will disclose why I consider them miracle makers when teaching the English language, or any […]

  7. Tara Benwell October 18, 2013 at 16:44 Reply

    Great post! I enjoyed reading this both as a mother and as a teacher. We have a new music man on EnglishClub (Jonathan Taylor) who has been creating lots of original songs for us. I hope you’ll check them out on YouTube. Some of them may be more appropriate for teen and adult learners. My personal favourite is the “Be Verb Rock Song”.http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL46AD33F32DB2C9CF

    • Eugenia Loras October 18, 2013 at 16:51 Reply

      Wow! Thank you very very much, Tara! I will definitely check them ALL out – along with your favourite one, with great pleasure. And I truly appreciate your time, comments and this great information.
      Thanking you very much,
      Eugenia
      P. S. I will get back to you after I have heard them.

  8. Joan Young (@flourishingkids) October 18, 2013 at 17:05 Reply

    I love this post! You are an inspiration 🙂 I love using music in teaching and I am often changing lyrics in the moment to get my students laughing and learning. When I first started teaching I wrote sight word songs to help my students learn how to read, write and understand how to use words like “he” she, and more. Your little ones are lucky to have such a great mom and your students.. also very fortunate! Thanks for sharing.

    • Eugenia Loras October 18, 2013 at 17:17 Reply

      Joan, thank you with all my heart! And congratulations on all your work, too! Isn’t it great what we can do and how we can feel as educators and / or parents? I just love it!
      Thanking you very much again,
      Eugenia

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