Friday, 22 June 2012

Poems and songs

Chatting with the other mums and dads during the girls' swimming lessons helps the time to pass more quickly.  Yesterday we discussed our children's whistling prowess, or lack thereof.  One mother said that her two are excellent whistlers now thanks to their whistling along to a certain song by Flo Rida which comes on the car radio a little too often.  Then she added, "I wish they could learn their spellings and times tables that easily."

MFL teachers are never off-duty.  My ears pricked up and my brain started making connections.  

I can still remember, word for word, songs that I learned at school when I was seven, I can sing along with every word of Oklahoma after performing in a school production of it when I was fourteen.  Nearly thirty years later, I could give many more examples.  Rhythm, music and song touch a part of us that mere words do not, and much has been written about the value of teaching language through song to make it memorable and enjoyable.

On 11th June, the Telegraph printed information about the new primary curriculum.  As well as the long-awaited news that MFL in KS2 will be compulsory, there was some detail about what children will be expected to do:

They will ... be expected to understand basic grammar and be acquainted with songs and poems in the language studied.

Many of us use songs in the primary language classroom and have seen how effective they can be.  But how many of us have dabbled in poetry?

There has been much discussion in the press over the last couple of weeks about the value of learning and reciting poetry.  It does have benefits in the language classroom.  Poems provide a model of correct language, as well as being examples of extended texts, something which primary linguists tend not to have as much access to as they should.  Coupled with actions they can be memorable learning experiences in the same way that stories such as Le Navet Enorme are now.  Students will hear the music of the language, can focus on pronunciation and rhyme, and poems can enhance intercultural learning.

As language teachers we are somewhat spoiled for choice for poems and songs in French.  My favourite source is's library of Comptines.  I also like the PetitesTetes selection as they have audio files attached.

It's harder to find examples in Spanish.  El huevo de chocolate has a selection but I haven't found many others.

The following are songs that I have used in the primary classroom:

La chanson de l'alphabet:

Quel âge as-tu?

La canción de las frutas:

El pulpito:

Con mi dedito digo sí

El Arca de Noé

Weather song
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Soy una taza

Uno, dos, tres
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Diez Gatitos
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And others that I don't have links for!

Which poems and songs have you used that you could recommend?  It would be good to get a collection together.


  1. Thanks for sharing these Clare. I use chu chu ua for teaching body parts.

  2. There are many, many sites with children's songs in Spanish, and lots of music available to download. Try a search with canciones infantiles. Spanish Playground has a great selection in the songs category, and there are also sites like Cantoalegre and Butiá. You are so right that music is a wonderful way to learn language. Thanks for a motivating post!