【Teaching Beginners #4】2月5日

3. Chants and Songs

I love to sing and to teach language by singing, chanting and moving. Young children learn English most effectively through music and movement at this stage. However, with the pandemic looming over us, we are advised not to sing even in Music classes. We need to look for alternatives. We’ll just use recorded music. Play CDs or use your smart phone. Use a machine that can slow down the tempo and allow you to pause and play again. Also, you can teach children to lip-sync inside their face cover masks and repeat silently in their head. It works.

The following are the songs and chants you can perform off the top of your head. You will need minimum preparation of flash cards and posters.

[The Alphabet Song]

Young children are very proud when they can sing the traditional alphabet song, which they’ve been exposed through TV programs and other media. I’d teach the ending verse as follows.

Happy, happy, I’m happy.

I can sing my A-B-C!

English Time Level 1 has a simple alphabet song which allows you to teach individual letters without linking ending consonants to the following vowels. Worth a try even if you’re not using the English Time series.

Another thing you can do is to sing the alphabet to the music scale.

Have children make the shape of O, and V with their arms, and X, Y, and Z with their fingers. I often use the music scale to teach simple language, e.g. days of the week. 

[Seven Steps Song]

I used to call out one number and have children make groups of the number but that calls for moving around and close contact among children. In order to keep children seated, sing one verse and call out a number. Have children point to the flash card on the board, show the number by their fingers, or write the numeral in the air. 

[Ten Little Fingers Song]

Have children show each number with their fingers. This is a perfect song for children to use their fine motor skills. Or, ask children to take out the number cards from their Sansu Set (Math kit) and place them on their desks. They can hold up number cards that they hear, which keeps them busy. It’s fun!

[One to Ten Chant]

This is an idea I learned from Carolyn Graham, the creator of Jazz Chants. T chants 10 numbers on 16 counts. The following is the easiest version.

One, CLAP, two, CLAP, three, four, five, CLAP,

Six, CLAP, seven, CLAP, eight, nine, ten, CLAP.

Write numbers from 1 to 10 on the board or place ten number cards on the board for reference and support. The first time T demonstrates and the second time Ss chant with T.  Change the patterns and continue.

[Sing a Rainbow song]

Go to YouTube channel and look for a BBC version of the song. The singing is very clear and the animation shows the order of the colors in a rainbow correctly. This will be a good start for children to learn primary colors and secondary colors.

[Black Cat Chant]

This is one of the many ideas I learned from Carolyn. Place color papers (origami) in one line on the board. Place flash cards of animals and school things in one line below the color papers. Point to the color and then the object below and chant: Black cat, pink chair, red pen, etc. Change the order of the objects and chant a different version.

[Point to the Ceiling Chant]

This is a chant that’s perfect to start an English lesson. (English for Primary Teachers, p. 25)

Point to the ceiling.

Point to the floor.

Point to the window.

Point to the door.

Clap you hands together.

One, two, three.

Now all sit down and look at me.

You can learn this simple chant by remembering that “floor” and “door” rhyme and so do “three” and “me.” You can make circles with your fingers and place them on your eyes to encourage children to look at you.


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