Friday, 5 November 2010

Don't stop me (singing) - I'm having a good time!

Dictation by song is an engaging way to use a song 'differently'. I cringe every time I hear a teacher throw in a CD & announce 'now listen to this' & then 'OK: now let's sing'. Could any of us do that in a foreign language with a song heard once? No, of course not...Would we even want to? Probably not (unless it really wails!).

Do something else, and generate the need to hear the song over again and again. Don't force the singing - it'll happen spontaneously or not at first! You can start this as a blank page if you like; you need to be confident in your students abilities as a)listeners b)artists. Younger ones need a 'leg up' - in our case I raided Andrew Wright's bible "1000 drawings for teachers to copy" (one of the best speakers I've ever seen at a JALT conference, incidentally). I am woeful at drawing myself, and wince whenever I am asked to draw something! A little bit of prep is key!

"The Black Cat" song from OUP's Let's Go (one) by Carolyn Graham lends itself very nicely to an activity like this. Our young learners have been nagging for a chance to do some more painting, so a large photocopy each and watery paint. It's a simple chant with an echo of most of the lines - "Green grass, green grass; blue sky, blue sky" and so on. If the children find it hard to pick out the colour or the object, then teacher can take the lead and sing along with the CD again or just sing it (a bit slower/more clearly). 'Seeing' the words close up helps a lot! To make things easier for yourself, warm up your charges with a Q & A about the template & predict what colour the different objects might or should be.

Obviously you play the CD or repeat the song yourself over & over, pausing for drawing, coloring or painting; it 'goes in' very naturally. Try and stop your tiddlers singing along?!