Using Music to Support the Literacy Development of Young English Language Learners
By Kelli R. Paquette and Sue A. Rieg
Early Childhood Educ J (2008) 36:227–232
Using Music to Enhance Student's Literacy Development
Activities That Support Music and Literacy in the Classroom
- Songs for Teaching Language Skills
- Teaching New Songs
- Developing Reading Fluency through Children's Song-Based Literature
- Improving Students' Writing Skills with Songs
- Creating Musical Instruments
- Exposing Children to Multiple Musical Genres
- the value of fostering creativity and enhancing literacy instruction through music is vital in today’s diverse early childhood classrooms.
- Music can transform classrooms to pleasant and positive learning environments in which children thrive emotionally, socially, and academically
- Providing children with structured and open-ended musical activities, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, and sharing the joy of creativity with each other are foundational bases for the growth and development of the early childhood learner.
Using Music to Enhance Students’ Literacy Development
- For many years, music has been used to enhance the learning power of young children (Ohman-Rodrigeuz 2004)
- Gardner (1993) noted that the musical intelligence is the first intelligence to emerge in young learners.
- music plays an important role in language and literacy development. Strong social bonds are encouraged through music and songs beginning in pre-school, and toddlers can begin to experiment with grammatical rules and various rhyming patterns in songs.
- A child’s initial introduction to patterned text often occurs first in songs, chants, and rhymes which are repeated throughout childhood. When songs, chants, and rhymes are utilized, concepts about print become more meaningful and conventions of print are learned in context.
- Music can be naturally integrated throughout all curricular areas to develop and to extend vocabulary and comprehension skills. Music can also improve listening and oral language skill development, improve attention and memory, and enhance abstract thinking (Hill-Clarke and Robinson 2003).
- music can enhance students’ creativity and cultural awareness.
- It is important to talk with children about the music they listen to and sing, so they are aware that different cultural groups listen to and sing various kinds of music. Through culturally diverse music, children learn about other people’s lives (Kendall 1996).
Activities that Support Music and Literacy in the Classroom
- Language lessons addressing grammar, reading fluency, and writing, among other literacy skills, can be enhanced through the medium of music.
Songs for Teaching Language Skills
- to teach a variety of language skills, such as sentence patterns, vocabulary, pronunciation, rhythm, and parts of speech.
- Songs can be used to practice and reinforce consonant sounds.
- Using songs in children’s native languages can be beneficial to the ELLs and English speaking students
Teaching New Songs
- Paired or partner reading, echo reading, choral reading, and phrasing are four instructional strategies often used to improve reading fluency (Bursuk and Damer 2007; Peregoy and Boyle 2008).
- Echo reading is when one person reads one sentence of text aloud with appropriate intonation and phrasing.
- Choral reading best supports ELLs when the reading material selected is age-appropriate and at a slightly higher level than what students are able to read independently.
- Using song-based literature is motivational and actively engages students in the reading process. By using popular musical lyrics, the techniques of paired or partner reading, echo reading, choral reading, and phrasing can be implemented easily within daily classroom instruction.
Improving Students’ Writing Skills with Song
- teachers can use music to improve children’s writing skills in many ways. First, students can write new words for old songs (Isenberg and Jalongo 2009,
- Making literature connections with songs is another way to improve students’ writing skills. After using trade books, teachers often provide writing time for students to independently respond in personal journals.
- An additional method in which to promote writing through music is for children to create song illustrations that visually represent their aesthetic interpretations of the song.
Creating Musical Instruments
- Children may want to create their own instruments or the teacher can have directions for making various instruments for the students to read and to follow. Motivation and creative thinking can evolve when students are given opportunities to create instruments.
- teachers establish music play centers with materials which empower children to imaginatively design musical devices (Kemple et al. 2004). These materials can include, but are not limited to, paper plates, small pebbles, coffee cans, paper towel rolls, and streamers.
- Because music can be created, performed, and shared with raw materials, instruments can be accessible to all children, thereby fostering creative and aesthetic growth opportunities to all young learners (Rivkin 2006).
- musically, literacy-rich environment will generate interest, encourage creativity, and set the stage for a positive learning environment. Plato once said, "Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything"