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English Language Teaching Global Blog


What a 2-min video clip can bring to us…

Receiving presents from Julie Gold and Devon Thagard

Annie Tsai, a teacher in Taiwan, writes about how music and the Everybody Up Global Sing-along changed the lives of her students last year. This piece originally appeared on Annie’s Corner on 28 January 2012.

This is by far one of the most extraordinary projects I’ve done. There has been a lot of joy and learning along the way with surprising struggles of school politics. Nevertheless, they are all good and they will nurture my future teaching life.

I felt the need to document what has happened over the past few weeks. One is to share how I started this amazing project with my kids, which many teachers might like to look to in hopes of noticing opportunities around them. The second purpose is, I’d like to share what I have learned from the event, about … people and life. Yes, I know it sounds bizarre to connect these with a competition, but surprisingly enough, this competition opens a window of observation.

Global Sing-along Competition

I couldn’t recall where I first learned about the competition nevertheless I remembered my first thought was, ‘Gee, this sounds like fun! How do I get involved?’ The competition, Global Sing-Along, was hosted by Oxford University Press (OUP). They were very clever and considerate to have all necessary teaching materials ready and downloadable online. To enter the contest, teachers are required to record kids singing from titles offered by OUP and upload the video clips to OUP’s YouTube channel. There were five songs to choose from and includes all the teaching materials such as mp3, lyrics and accompanying MTV.

The first song couldn’t be simpler. The lyrics contain only two words, ‘everybody’ and ‘up’. Regardless of how some may see the song as too easy for any elementary level kids, it is a perfect test of how we teachers can expand and extend from a pure base. In daily school life, children climb up the monkey bars, they swing up high and low, they do a lot of rope jumping, they look up skyward to observe things … these child-like activities supply a rich foundation for extensive teaching moments.

I asked my 3rd graders which part of our campus they would like to showcase if they were to introduce our school to children from other parts of the world. They nominated 7 areas and I assigned each class to do an MTV for each spot. The video shooting took only one session and they just loved learning outside of the classroom.

We actually did all 5 songs and I did something extra with another song ‘I like chicken’. You can take a look at the I Like Chicken Lesson Plan.
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The universal benefits of songs as teaching tools

Children singing in classSongs are a great way for children to learn English. In this post, Devon Thagard, co-owner of Super Simple Learning and songwriter for the new Primary level course, Everybody Up, explores the benefits of using songs in class.

This past year, I had the great pleasure to be involved in the Everybody Up Global Sing-along as one of the songwriters, a contest judge, and a workshop leader. The entire experience reinforced and reminded me of the strong feelings I have about 1) the power of songs in the classroom, and 2) the importance of learning from other teachers.

The Global Sing-along received over 70 entries from countries all over the world. When you see classrooms around the world all enjoying singing the same songs, it really brings home the universal benefits of songs as teaching tools. Songs allow all ages to participate and learn at their levels. In the Global Sing-along videos, we see pre-schoolers and kindergartners (like these great students from Ukraine) doing some very simple dancing, picking up a few words, and getting a feel for the rhythm. For very young students who are just beginning to learn English, songs provide a fun, welcoming way to get that oh-so-valuable input, and gestures and dancing help them understand and internalize the meaning.

Older and more advanced students are able go beyond the basics and to express their creativity with songs. As students move into higher grades, they may be a little more reluctant to sing and dance as they did in kindergarten, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy learning with songs, and the benefits of the repeated exposure to comprehensible input continue. At all ages, students are learning vocabulary, pronunciation, intonation, the rhythm of the language, listening skills, and more. Here are some great examples from Thailand, Korea, Turkey and France.

It’s also fantastic to be able to visit our fellow teachers’ classrooms around the world through video. Just having the chance to see how the classrooms are arranged and decorated sparks a lot of great ideas, but being able to see how teachers are using dance, crafts, instruments, and drama together with songs is really inspiring. If you haven’t already, browse the playlist of Global Sing-along videos. I’m sure you’ll come away from it with several great ideas for your classroom.

How do you use songs in your classes?

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