Songs in the classroom

Sir Donald and wipt,

Songs for little, little ones are okay. But I believe songs, for the most part, are all fluff and no flavor. They are nice and all, but shouldn’t part of what is being taught in the classroom.

Question: What do you think of “Da ban” kindy kids writing paragraphs? Simple ones of course, but paragraphs none the less. I know of several kindys that do not teach songs per say, but are having their older students work on paragraph writing. The classes are two hours per day/five days per week. This does not take away from conversation practice, or phonics.

How much are they writing? Paragraphs are too much. A few lines is a lot already. Young children need games, stories, songs and different ways to explore the world. And writing is a cognitive way of learning for older students.

I am a teacher in NA, and there is not writing of words in kindergarten. They start writing words & sentences in grade 1. There is a reason for that. Kids need to learn in the affective domain, which Taiwanese kids don’t get enough of.

Taiwanese kids get pushed too fast and need more time to enjoy life. I have met too many Taiwanese teenagers and adults who have no life (no hobbies or interests). I say let you kids enjoy songs, games & stories. That is what kindergarten is about.

JJ :wink:

Paragraphs - Holy cow :shock:
This is Kindergarten not Harvard. Or is it Small Harvard School :smiling_imp:? (xiao Ha Fo)

I can’t agree with paragraphs in Kindy.

What’s the goal of writing paragraphs at that age. I feel that kindergarten should be about learning how to interact with others, improving motor skills, being introduced to ideas like science, math, and reading, etc. I’d also have to disagree about the music. Songs, especially children’s songs, help with group interaction skills, memorization, pronunciation, and even sentence structure and vocabulary among other things.

My experience tells me that kids love singing songs. Actually I remember when I was in Primary School in Australia, and with Dean Lukins cleaning and jerking his way to gold, the whole school went into chorus;

True Blue, is it me and you?
Is it Mum and Dad, is it a cockatoo?
Is it standing by your mate
When he’s in a fight?
Or just Vegemite
True Blue, I’m asking you…

The kids are getting all the stuff that kindys should provide (fun, interaction, teaching of basic social skills, etc…). So, they aren’t getting cheated on getting all the good stuff that comes with being a kid. :smiley: And it is not interfering with the good stuff such as phonics and conversation.

The kindy is having the kids write paragraphs simply because the students can. Please keep in mind that the paragraphs are very, very basic. And, the kids seem to enjoy it.

Kids are smart and we big folks sometimes underestimate what they are capable of.

If they enjoy it then GREAT!
I have some students who beg me to give them spelling tests! True!

Is this your school DB?

How old are children when they attend kindergartens? I nivver went up to the skule til I were five and we wurny tot riting fer agis but i turnd oot awreet.

BH Wrote:

Maybe they do this to avoid hearing you sing. :wink:

Oh dear, you walked right into that one, didn’t you?

Quote me when ya quote me!

It IS true. Stange but true

Hey Hogg,

Sadly, this is not being done in our kindys. There the most we do for writing in the kindys is to ask the kids to answer simple questions and also make questions for answers. I thought it was good for the little ones to be able to do this, until…

A parent of one of our an ching kids told us that her daughter was writing paragraphs in the Da Ban kindy class. I know of the kindy as my friend was the head teacher there. I asked him if I could have a look and that’s when I saw kindys writing and enjoying paragraphs. (I don’t agree with what a lot of that kindy is doing, such as teaching math in English, but some of those paragraphs looked pretty good) Silly me, just asking kindys to answer and ask questions in written form.

This week I am going to sit down with all involved and decide how is the best way to introduce paragraph writing in the kindys. But no matter what, no singing or chanting in the classroom!

And Hogg…oh yeah, spelling tests (even in Kindys) is good and necessary!

But DB,
We teach all our subjects in both English and Chinese. First taught in Chinese and then in English. So, we also teach Math in English. Great system.

FWIW, I wouldn’t want my just-turned-six year old writing paragraphs at this age.

I’m also a big fan of children’s songs. I’d make a terrific Wiggle! I’m really surprised that a kindergarten would be against songs and ‘chants’ in the classroom. They’re a big part of early childhood education in the West, but maybe there’s something you guys know that I don’t…?

Braxton, they don’t know something you don’t. In fact, I’m willing to bet they know very little about early childhood education or psychology in general.

Not to sound mean but you guys have been here too long and have had your minds warped by the Chinese education system.

Just because it is possible for children to learn to perform certain tasks does not mean it is appropriate for them at that age. To be as graphic as possible to drive home the point, you can teach a 5 year old to give you a blowjob but, well, you can figure out the rest.

Daban kids writing paragraphs. Jesus Christ. Many boys at this age cannot even hold a pen well. Their fine muscles have not developed as well as the girls’. Not to mention that many of the children will have no real interest in learning to write (or read) at this point. If they are doing it it is likely to please their teachers and or parents. Unless you happen to have a class of highly precocious verbal learners on which case you shoudl be aware that they are special and the techniques you are promoting are of no use to normal children. In fact, they are dangerously inappropriate.

There are so many more appropriate methods for teaching a second language to children. Role-play, songs and chants, arts and crafts, cooking, stories. I’d be curious how many of these besides songs you also eschew.

Songs are all fluff? What kind of a demon are you?
:frowning: If nothing else songs create a healthy, happy learning environment. You kno the old adage, when students are happy, they learn better. Try it sometime.

Songs also give the teacher the opportunity to use language in a natural way. I don’t mean just the song language. I mean the language used to introduce the song, and talk about it later.

“Okay, let’s all sit down here. I’m going to sing a new song for you. Do you know what it’s about? (Pause as teacher waits for students to shout answers.) Let me give you a hint. It’s about a (Teacher does spider gesture and kids shouts “It’s about a spider.”) Yes, it’s about a spider.”

Teacher then sings song. Kids sing along and have fun. The are encouraged to express the song in gestures. Teacher again has opportunity to reinforce basic langauge. “Make a big circle. Stretch your arms out wide. No, wider. Now sit down and smile.”

Afterwards kids draw pictures based on the song and the teacher goes around and asks them about the story in their pictures, the colors used, the emotions expressed, and so on. Afterwards, the class sits in a circle and talks about animals they are scared of.

Now that’s a kindergarten class.

Having fun in English class is not predicated on singing songs. I could never do what I do if the kids didn’t enjoy their classes. I understand perfectly well that the money flows if kids go home and tell their folks that they enjoy English class.

Believe you me, I have tried the singing routine and frankly speaking it just doesn’t get the maximum results. Singing brings better phonics? Sorry, incorrect. Thinking outside the box when teaching phonics does. Go and look at every single phonics book for kids on the market today and tell me what you don’t see. Better intonation? Why can’t that be done when teaching conversation patterns?

I can show these things whenever you are in my part of the woods and would be happy to do so.

I haven’t started the paragraph stuff for the kindys but I do do it at the language schools (some as young as 1st grade, depending on their level). I was always under the impression that traditional education asks the students to copy, copy, copy. Writing a paragraph in English, however simple it is, requires some sort of creativity if it is taught right. I am surprised at some of the words they throw out from a dictionary. Not always the correct word or usage, but the kids are thinking about what they want to say/write and trying to express that.

We hear all the time teachers complaining about doing the “song and dance routine”. Complaining about not really teaching. Complaining about just being the token “laowai”. Now there is talk about about some folks doing things differently but then everybody stands up to holler that “it’s not the right way!”

I admire your chutzpa but believe you are still misguided. Remember, for every Orsan Welles there are a thousand Ed Woods. IE, 1000 cranks for every true innovator. Thinking outside the box should only be done when one is pretty familiar with what is in the box. In other words, don’t go breaking the rules before you even know what they are.

In children’s education, practises must be developmentally appropriate. Saying that you are getting maximum results is not enough. You have to argue how your practises fit into the larger scheme of children’s emotional, physical and intellectual development.

It is one thing for you to say you don’t know how to teach songs effectively. All teachers have their limitations. But as my example above showed, teaching songs is not just for fun, but can be part of a sensible curriculum that teaches english through activities that are natural and enjoyable to children. There is a world of difference between the teacher who is a song and dance man and the teacher who teaches through songs and dance.

I think you are focusing on the wrong parts of language learning and at the wrong time. Intonation, phonics, conversation patterns. This sounds like an adult class.

Any class has a limited number of hours per week. Teachers who stress phonics and writing in the early years are wasting everyones’ time. For every class you spend on phonics you could have read another story in which you could approach the relationship between spoken and written sounds in a much more meaningful way than c-a-t flashcards.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to phonics means throwing it out the window.

Kindergarten teacher should stress listening and speaking, and in as natural a context as possible. Kids can learn writing and reading later. What’s the hurry? This isn’t ESL.

Again, if you want to do things differently, and not be criticized, you’re going to have to convince us that you know what you’re doing. That you understand something about children.

As I wrote, writing long paragraphs (and with what tool,pencils, pens) is probably physically difficult for some of the children and emotionally and cognitively meaningless for almost all of them. Mastering a simple song in English would bring them far more confidence and pleasure than completing an exercise like paragraph writing for which they have no criteria for judgement other than the teacher’s approval.

I have to come down firmly on the pro-song side, but with conditions.

  1. I have not seen adequate subject matter/songs for teaching. I’m talking about good songs with rhythm that reinforce the material. DB this is in much the same way that you made your own phonics book rather than use material you thought only marginally useful/effective. Maybe it’s time to do the same thing with songs. Just don’t use lousy boring songs.

  2. Adequate training for those singing the songs and teaching them to the children. I’d have to give this a big 0 with most organizations. Why bother to teach them a song, if it is not reinforced in class with similiar material? Doesn’t make sense to me.

  3. Must be accompanied with book reading. I’ve had a lot of success with book reading and songs as a combo. Kids can see pictures point things out and be able to associate the words in a song with an image. They also see, hear and experience English in a correct pattern or intonation. Ever try to teach buxiban kids that questions having rising tones? It ain’t easy. The books and the songs do not necessarily have to be about the same thing, just marginally related.

  4. Effective teaching- Just ain’t there. We have a lot of clowns in this circus. I know from watching interviews good trainable teachers are hard to find. Doesn’t matter how good your material is if your waishi is too stupid, incompetent, careless, or drunk to teach it.

DB, we’re mates and all, but I think you’re not properly thinking ourside the box on this one. The songs you teach your kindy kids will be the same songs they will sing to their children. A well thought out program of songs with proper supporting material and training will pay dividends and parents will be able to hear their children sing the songs at home. The parents at my last kindy loved me because of it. Children won’t speak English at home, but they damn well will sing English songs at home. Think it over and let me know what you think.


Mucha Man,

I really appreciate your imput on this topic, but I do know what the rules are and that is why I am bending them. My qualifications are not needed to be put onto this public forum but please be rest assured that they give me the right to speak with some sort of authority on this subject. There is no need to question them again and if you have any questions about my “qualifications” then you may ask me in private.

“I think you are focusing on the wrong parts of language learning and at the wrong time. Intonation, phonics, conversation patterns.”

Man, that is so wrong…when is there a better time to teach phonics than at a young age? Also, number one rule of teaching ESL is to get the kids speaking.

“You have to argue how your practises fit into the larger scheme of children’s emotional, physical and intellectual development.”

Well, my “practises” ask the kids to push the envelope on what they can accomplish. I have always thought that is a teacher’s responsibility.

“Teachers who stress phonics and writing in the early years are wasting everyones’ time. For every class you spend on phonics you could have read another story in which you could approach the relationship between spoken and written sounds in a much more meaningful way than c-a-t flashcards.”

Stress phonics, oh yeah… Stress writing, oh no… Sorry no c-a-t flashcards from this boy. And, I would never spend a whole class just on phonics…speaking sells, as well as a much needed tool here.

“Thinking outside the box when it comes to phonics means throwing it out the window.”

Well, maybe the only thing I want to throw out the window is the trendy way phonics is taught.

Mucha Man, I hope that I did not take any of your quotes out of content. If I did then I apologize in advance.

Okami…you are once again the voice of reason…the night is old and my drink glass is empty…let me think about your comments and will reply after honorable sons have finished the first leg of their tests at school tomorrow.



[quote=“Durins Bane”]
We hear all the time teachers complaining about doing the “song and dance routine”. Complaining about not really teaching. Complaining about just being the token “laowai”. Now there is talk about about some folks doing things differently but then everybody stands up to holler that “it’s not the right way!”[/quote]

I think we’re hollering about this as it applies to 5- and 6-year-old kids, not older ones. Kindergartners in public schools in the States aren’t writing paragraphs–they’re singing songs, learning some phonics and simple reading (maybe), helping at snack time, bouncing balls, playing on the jungle gym, and doing little art projects with scissors, glue sticks, crayons, and sparkles. That’s what kindergarten is about.

Okami, I think you said it… songs are a major part of the kindergarten curiculum, but many do not know how to use it properly.

As for comparing kindergarten in the west and kindergarten in Taiwan, it’s incomparable. Kindergarten at home is learning about life skills, social interaction, going to school, the world around them… there is very little focus on cognitive learning, more on psychomotor and affective learning.

Meanwhile in Taiwan, kindergarten is like cramming for grade 1. See what they can do and load them on. Yes, ‘da ban’ are very capable of writing, even as EFL students. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for them nor should it be pushed. Taiwan English Kindegartens need more fun and less school work - period. They push the students enough and provide plenty of cognitive learning, they don’t need to have more opportunities with paragraph writing.

Let me put it this way, think back to YOUR kindergarten years or the earliest you can remember, what do you remember? Do you remember spelling tests? Do you remember phonics lessons? You remember fun. You remember teachers, friends and FUN acitivities -like stories, songs, etc. That’s what is important.

I teach older kids now (junior high), and they always ask me, “Sir, I know this, why I am doing this? I am too lazy to bother.” Well, I explain to them, it’s about learning life skills - completing tasks, working hard (goal setting), not procrastinanting, good study skills, etc… school is more than just the material, but how to use it and grow as person.

I taught kindergarten and Grade 1 in NA for 3 years and 5 years of kindergarten in Taiwan, and I think both systems can learn from each other. But writing paragarphs b/c they can is not the best idea. They have plenty of time to practice writing in elementary school. Teachers should try to think of other methods to improve their students’ English. Like you said DB, “Speaking is the most important thing in ESL.” Yes, some writing is good for reinforcment, and learning, but keep it low.

Songs and games are good, but much too often it is used ineffectively. What they need in Taiwan kindegartens are more reading of picture books. BUY MORE BOOKS - SCHOOLS!!! That is how you get your kids to improve English - use stories as the base and build your lessons around it.

JJ :wink: