Musical class is unrecognisable as its former self now that I’ve had training and been given a course complete with music, dialogues, and books. I’ve gone from sitting with my head in my hands with a crowd of unruly children running and shrieking all over the place for lack of enough material to keep them occupied, to absolutely loving teaching my now organised, entertaining Musical classes.
Musical English is a programme designed by an education company in Korea. It’s a great idea – I’m only on my third week of the course, and already I’m amazed at just how much English the children have picked up and remembered thanks to catchy song-and-dance routines, chants, and short dialogues where I encourage them to copy me and really act the part – yelling and looking angry, crying and looking sad, doing evil witch laughs or making monkey noises.
A group of new kindergarteners, who, three weeks ago (when they started school for the first time) couldn’t even say “Hello” or “My name is…”, can now not only sing a number of songs and answer a variety of questions (“What sound does it make? Who’s in the picture?”), but actually know the difference between “this is” and “these are” – which is more than can be said for the children 5 years their senior in one of my elementary classes. My seven-year-olds understand the concept of opposites, can perform the first two scenes of Beauty and the Beast (with two songs and dances), and can discuss the importance of being kind to others. It’s amazing to watch.
We spend two weeks on each short scene, and they get to listen to the dialogue in both English and Korean the first time so that they understand exactly what’s going on. Then we learn the words, with actions to help them remember. We sing a song and learn a dance, which helps reinforce the most important phrases of the scene. We practise reading the words, and then acting out different parts, while wearing character masks. We do fun chants and short workbook exercises to learn what the words look like on paper. And I only spent about a tenth of the time I did before shouting “listen!” or “sit down!”, because they really love what we’re doing.
I’m sorry that this seems to have become some sort of extremely dull teaching blog, but I find it so incredible to watch how quickly kids can pick things up and make steady progress when it’s all done properly! I really hope that in, say, twenty years from now, I have the chance to speak with one of my kindergarten students. I know I’m just playing a small part in their language learning, but it’s really, really cool to know that that part is having some kind of effect!
[Photos stolen from school website. Shhh!]