Children are the real movers and shakers of this world. Watch a toddler practice walking, supervise group activities for kids, or even catch your young children in your arms as they run to welcome you home, and you will see there is a whole lot of moving happening! From birth, children learn to move and move to learn. In the world of ESL curriculum development, we understand that English language learning is best acquired when closely linked to a gross- or fine-motor skill activity. Learning through actions or through Total Physical Response (TPR) reinforces new and old language. Research shows that TPR positively impacts memory and recall in language learning. Plus, physical activities for kids makes the learning all the more fun—whether learning how to roll a ball or how to say “ball” in English while learning how to dribble it!
Music and movement and ELL students
In our ESL curriculum, ABC English & Me, we use English songs for kids, Total Physical Response, puppets, and story time to teach ELL students. English songs for kids that include miming of the songs provide children with the opportunity to sing and do—or Total Physical Response. For example, moving and hearing the vocabulary in “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” encourages ELL students to then use the new vocabulary as they move. Familiar English nursery rhymes and finger plays, pair English Language Learning with a fine motor activity. ABC English & Me, our ELL/ESL curriculum for ages 2 to 6, aligns with international standards, including the Common European Framework of References for Languages (CEFR). Plus, we incorporate the latest research on how music and Total Physical Response boosts language learning and increases phonological awareness.
What do music, patterns, and language learning have in common? Well, more than you might think. When English language learners play along to the rhythms in English songs for kids or clap their hands to the beat of nursery rhymes, they are practicing active listening and pattern recognition.
Now, new research published in the Psychological Science journal suggests that learning a second language can be predicted by the ability to recognize patterns.
Second language learning and pattern recognition
In the study, the researchers recruited American students to learn Hebrew. During the two semesters, they tested the students’ Hebrew understanding and measured their ability to recognize visual patterns. The data showed a strong link between pattern recognition and language learning. Students who did better recognizing patterns
also spoke more Hebrew at the end of the two semesters.
“It’s surprising that a short 15-minute test involving the perception of visual shapes could predict to such a large extent which of the students who came to study Hebrew would finish the year with a better grasp of the language,” explained lead researcher Ram Frost in a press release.
Using the patterns of musical learning to teach ELL students
In our ESL curriculum, ABC English & Me, we lead young children to experience patterns through movement, listening to English songs for kids, and playing instruments. When we jump, jump, jump, stop during a song or ta, ta, ta, rest with instruments, ESL students learn rhythm patterns (quarter note, quarter note, quarter note, rest), a basic musical concept. Rhythm patterns are combinations of long and short sounds and silences. In musical learning, a child’s whole body involvement with patterning lays a foundation for English language learning.
Learn more about using the patterns found in musical learning to teach young English Language Learners with ABC English & Me!
Parent is another word for teacher—regardless of what any thesaurus says! (It’s also another word for nurse, doctor, chef, driver…) So, of course, parent involvement in early childhood matters. Studies continue to highlight the importance of family involvement in education, especially in regards to early language and literacy development. After all, we’ve said it before: a parent is a child’s first and best teacher.
However, unlike professional teachers, most parents do not have formal training in early childhood education or teaching English to children. Thankfully, parents do not need formal education in order to support their children learning English as a second language (or as a first!). They do need 20 minutes a day, English language books, and a comfortable place to read together. Here’s why:
5 reasons why parent involvement in education through reading makes a difference to English Language Learners
Reading together promotes language and literacy development in both languages.
Reading to children increases their vocabulary acquisition.
Parents who read to their children improve their child’s chances of success in school-based literacy programs, including an ESL curriculum.
Children’s reading achievement, vocabulary, and comprehension skills improve when their parents read to them. Plus, parents who are also learning English as a second language gain practice, too!
Children develop a positive awareness of the structure of stories, the language of stories, the nature of reading behavior, and the sounds of the language.
ESL activities for children to do at home
During our ESL curriculum development, we intentionally created content for families to use together at home to support the classroom learning and parental involvement in early childhood education. ABC English & Me includes thematic 30-minute lessons for classroom teachers to use with English language learners between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. Children learn English vocabulary and expression in a musical environment that also connects the classroom learning with the learning at home through Kindermusik@Home. These monthly online home materials include ESL activities for children, a new English language eBook each month, English songs for kids, and more.
Get more information on teaching English to childrenaround the world with Kindermusik and ABC English & Me.
According to research, learning to speak English as a second language—or another foreign language—impacts the cognitive development in children. Of course, experiencing a bilingual curriculum can help prepare a child for a global workforce as adults. Plus, the younger a child learns a second language the more likely they are to speak like a native speaker.
In our ESL curriculum development for ABC English & Me, we combined our more than 35 years of experience with music and learning with the latest research on English Language Learning. Here are just a few of the benefits revealed in the research.
5 effects of a bilingual curriculum on child brain development
Children who learn another language, including ELL students, score better on standardized tests, especially in math, reading, and vocabulary.
Children who speak more than one language can easily switch between two or more systems of speech, writing, and structure.
Bilingual and multilingual children exhibit stronger memories than monolinguals.
Learning another language boosts the language capabilities of the first language.
Bilingual children score higher on nonverbal problem-solving tests when compared to children who only speak one language.