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Interpersonal Communication with CI: Sing Songs with Your Students

One of the keys to acquiring a second language is the opportunity for interpersonal communication with comprehensible input. With elementary Spanish learners, one of the best ways to give them this opportunity is to sing songs and play games with them. The Circle Time segment of the Sonrisas Spanish lessons in Sonrisas Level I and Level II does this. Circle Time incorporates songs, poems, and chants from the Sonrisas CD and the Canciones Culturales CD. It is important to understand that the songs on the CDs are meant to be used as a resource for the teacher to learn those songs, along with the movement and gesture that accompany them, and then sing them with students. There are several reasons why this is so important:

  • Simply put, when you sing the songs with your students, you are engaging in interpersonal communication through music. When you play the songs on a CD player, you are not engaging in interpersonal communication.
  • When you do movement and gesture as you sing songs, you are providing CI for the lyrics that you are singing. As students perform the movement with you, while they are singing, they gain understanding of the content of the songs, they develop their comprehension, and they grow their acquisition of Spanish.
  • Movement and singing are developmentally appropriate for young learners. Many young students posses a strong kinesthetic intelligence. They have a strong ability to use their whole body to express ideas, and they can maintain focus when they are engaged in physical activity. Musical intelligence is also present in many young learners. They are sensitive to rhythm and have the ability to express musical forms. By engaging this intelligence through songs, students begin to learn the phonetics of Spanish, they learn pronunciation, and they begin to link words and phrases together meaningfully.
  • Music is also an authentic way to introduce students to Spanish-speaking cultures.
  • Oh, and it’s fun (for you and your students).

Admittedly, memorizing the songs and learning the movement and gesture that go with them, is one of the most time consuming parts of preparing for the Sonrisas lessons. It’s worth it, and your students will benefit.

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