Bilingual children, in particular, can truly benefit from singing songs using their second language. Though they may encounter a lot of unfamiliar words at first, repeating words as they sing along helps them produce sounds in the specific language. And as they practice the songs again and again, the sounds and words eventually give light to truly understanding the song.
Below are some tips when it comes to introducing songs to bilingual children. Come, and let’s sing along!
Choose songs that repeat words and sentences in it. Focus first on the repetitive parts. When the children have memorized these, they would be more enthusiastic to participate, and would love to learn the rest of the song.
2. Rhythm & Movement
Picking songs that have a good rhythm is essential. The reason for this is because children find it easier to learn the words when there is consistency and regular patterns in the rhythm of the song. With this, the words should flow well with the beat. To make it more fun, you can bring in some musical instruments such as shakers and drums for children to play with as they sing along.
Together with singing, children love it when there’s movement. Having the freedom to move their bodies while they sing along with the words and sentences in the other language can have a substantial effect on them. One of the favorite movement songs for children is “Hokey-Pokey”, but also see if you can find movement songs of different cultures. A fun activity that you can do with kids is to let them choreograph their own movements for a song. Pick a song that has many movement words and allow the children to creatively illustrate their own moves for the song.
3. Words & Lyrics
In introducing songs to bilingual children, the words of the song are an important factor. When there are too many unfamiliar and hard words, it can be frustrating for a child. Remember that singing songs with children should be fun and inspiring, rather than stressfull. Despite this, you may also want the children to enhance their language skills whenever they learn a new song. What you can do is to go over some or all of the words ahead of time. Helping children understand the words that they are singing would make it more meaningful for them. Moreover, it would be great if you can find songs that contain full sentences that children can use in their everyday lives.
4. Rhyming Songs
It would be easier for children to memorize vocabulary with rhyming songs. Choose songs that contain rhyming words that focus on what your working on. For instance, if you want to practice words with the long-a sound, then look for songs with a good amount of rhyming words with a long-a sound. This would be a fun way to help children understand the variety of sounds in different words. You can also encourage your children to come up with their own songs that have rhyming words and sentences in it
5. Different Languages
Go beyond singing songs in just one language. Encourage songs from the secondary language or any other language. Allow children to share songs from their own traditions and give them the opportunity to teach some simple songs in their language that others can enjoy and learn from as well. This can empower them and help them realize that different cultures and languages are precious.