Teaching ESL with Music

Submitted by: Deborah Harvey

Teaching vocabulary through music

Recorded children’s music, written words for songs, pictures depicting vocabulary in song.

Teacher Preparation:
Collect pictures for pocket chart of the nouns/concepts that illustrate the song you have chosen. I use picture dictionaries and scan the pictures. This way you will have pictures of uniform size. Write the words for the song on sentence strips. Make a half sheet song booklet for the children that has a line or few lines from the song on each page, that can be illustrated by the children.

The steps of the procedure can be spread out over a week or several days. I choose a song a week that ties in with our reading program. Show each pocket chart picture to the children and discuss,act out, or otherwise teach the vocabulary for the song. Children can match the words to the pictures if appropriate for your group. Play the song, act out the words, discuss meaning. Repeat this procedure each day for one week. On Friday, give the children the song booklet you have prepared. Have your pocket chart available to which students may refer. Children illustrate each page of the booklet (Teach what “illustrate” means, insist that the picture “shows what the words say.” Regroup and let children share some of their illustrations. Sing the song once more; this time students refer to their booklets. Children can then place their booklet in the “revisiting” basket, or take home to share with their families,

You may want to teach your group how to look up the vocabulary in picture dictionaries.

Real World Usage:
Younger children could use pictures only. Have them each hold a picture card and put themselves in correct order as the class sings the song. Have them illustrate a few words from the song, rather than giving them the whole song. Tie it in with your handwriting, spelling and sight word vocabulary.