How I Most Effectively Teach Foreign Language Kids

Today I decided that after a semester’s worth of drama and dance training it was time to introduce my littlest ones to the concept of singing.

The littlest kids I teach are 4 years old and they of course know what singing is, they do it in all of my classes and in everyday life I assume. I don’t really know how other foreign teachers teach anything without singing it. The kids have little interest in what I have to say, but they love to listen to anything I’m singing about.

Singing is how I get the kids to sit down, or really do anything that I want them to do. They don’t understand much English, and they certainly don’t understand “sit down.”So through the semester I’ve been singing “sit down” across three very distinct notes, the NBC chimes.
As I sung them I would always sit down and gesture the kids to do the same until they worked it out.
The more I did this the more they understoodd, at this point I can even just hum the tune and they’ll all just sit, but if I say “sit down” in my normal voice absolutely nothing will happen.

Anyway today I decided that it was time to introduce the concept of singing itself and give it a word that they could say, and understand properly in their minds that it is a describable action, not just the way teacher communicates.So I brought in the microphone that I podcast with and it’s stand. I also brought a toy.

I explained that it has always been the dream of my toy, Arthrisha, to be a famous singer. Of course they have no idea what I’m saying but when I set up the microphone and have Arthrisha stand in front of it, they are beginning to get the idea.

I tell them that I’m going to play the backing track to ‘ABC’ for Arthrisha to record her albums debut single.
I press play and within a few bars and much to my feigned frustration Arthrisha is completely paralysed by nerves and is unable to sing.
I encourage her and allow the kids to encourage her to sing and that we are supporting her.

She fails another couple of times and I’m seemingly at my wits end.

It’s at this point that I allow the kids a turn to come up to the microphone and record ABC. (Not really record, the mic isn’t plugged into anything).
I ask if anyone wants to try to sing, it’s at this point that they understand two things. They know what singing is, they know how to say it, and they know that they desperately want to do it.
Every hand shoots up but I don’t pick anyone until someone can articulate that they want to sing.
A little girl asks to sing and articulates it the best so she is chosen.
She gets up and comes to the microphone and clears her tiny 4 year old throat.

She grasps the microphone and allows the opening bars of ABC to play on the backing track.
Like a pro she taps her foot to the beat and opens her mouth to sing. As if in slow motion the moment finally arrives and she begins to sing for all the world to hear –


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s