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Sonrisas Best Practice: Learn the Songs on the CDs and Sing Them with Your Students

Music and verse are a big part of the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum. In Sonrisas Levels I and II, during the Circle Time segment of the lessons, teacher and students sing songs and recite poetry and chants as part of each lesson. Music is a great way to engage preschool and elementary Spanish learners. It activates their kinesthetic, musical, and interpersonal intelligences, and young learners are actually able to connect to the language through their physical bodies and imaginations while singing and dancing—plus, it is just plain fun for children (and teacher too!). In terms of language performance, music facilitates the learning of words, phrases, simple sentences, and questions. These provide a strong foundation for developing proficiency.

The curriculum materials for Sonrisas Levels I and II provide teachers with two music CDs that contain all the songs and poems that are utilized in the Circle Time segment of the lessons. It is important to note that best practice for the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum indicates that the teacher learns the songs on the CDs and sings them, along with the accompanying movement and gesture, with students. The songs on the CDs are not meant to be played for students in a CD player (these barely exist anymore). There are several reasons for this:

  • When you perform the songs with your students the movement and gesture that you do provides comprehensible input for many of the lyrics in the songs. This use of CI in music and verse promotes acquisition.
  • You will see higher levels of engagement when you perform the songs with your students. Young learners are natural imitators, and they will be eager to imitate an enthusiastic and active performance from their teacher rather than trying to follow along with a recorded song.
  • When you perform the songs with your students you are engaging in meaningful interpersonal communication which promotes acquisition.
  • Singing songs with your students builds comprehension and speaking skills.

When we train teachers in using the Sonrisas Curriculum, we point out that one of the biggest task in lesson planning is learning the songs and accompanying movement in order to perform them with students. We provide several ways to do this. Obviously, the CDs provide the means to learn each song. In the Teacher Manual there is a section which contains the lyrics to each song along with the written directions for the movement that goes with it. We also provide videos which demonstrate the movement for each song. It is always a good idea to practice singing each song, while doing the movement and gesture, before performing it with a class. This is not an easy task. Implementing the Circle Time segment of each lesson is really like performing. It takes practice, timing, enthusiasm, and execution. But when it is done in this manner, it becomes an incredibly effective and valuable learning experience for students.

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