Why I'm Keeping a Spanish Song Journal: Using Music for Meaningful Language Learning
Music is undeniably a wonderful and effective tool for language learning at all ages. The repetitive patterns and memorable phrases can help with pronunciation and understanding the sounds of a language. Music is also a great way to connect with culture.
These are just a few of the reasons why Beautiful Mundo incorporates so much music into the weekly lesson plans. There is no denying it can get a little overwhelming when one is trying to learn so many songs week after week though. Committing these songs to our memory has many benefits, but it certainly doesn't need to happen overnight. Nor should we expect it to be that way! What really matters is that our children see us engaging positively with the music.
To be clear, I don't believe it's necessary to learn every single recommended song by heart. It's perfectly okay to play through a playlist and only sing little parts of songs here and there. In fact, it's natural for us to enjoy music this way! I often fill in the gaps by simply humming along or spinning around with the kids in my arms.
However we are able, when our kids see us engaging with the music that's playing we send the message that we both enjoy what we are hearing and find it fun to participate. We set the tone that this is both exciting and worthy of our time and energy.
One weekday afternoon I had the Beautiful Mundo for Kids V1 playlist going as background music in our playroom. Suddenly, my daughter shouted, "Mamá, it's your favorite song!" Surprised, I tuned in a little more closely and realized "Cinco pollitos" by José Luis-Orozco was playing through the speaker. I would never have considered this little rhyme my "favorite song," but after I thought about it I realized that my daughter had translated my enthusiasm when I taught it to her a couple weeks before directly into how much she believed I valued and loved it. This little interaction brought such an important thought to light for me. Learning these songs in Spanish together is creating lasting impressions on their little hearts. It's what I had set out to achieve from the beginning of this language learning journey.
The more I can internalize and commit the songs we are learning in Spanish to my long term memory, the easier it will be for me to incorporate language learning into our daily lives. When I scoop my two-year-old up into my arms and want to share a moment with him by singing a little song, my brain can readily pull "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" or "Rock-A-Bye Baby" from my memory. Here's the thing though: I really, really want to be able to do this with lullabies and rhymes in Spanish too!
Keeping a Song Journal
Writing down the song lyrics by hand in a journal gives me the opportunity to slow down and develop a more intimate relationship with the words in a particular song. It is a chance for me to practice spelling and notice the differences in how I might have pronounced the words compared to how I am hearing them sung in the songs. Simply by writing the songs down, I find I am able to remember them better, and therefore allows me to be a better leader for my children in our shared Spanish language journey.
It is a time consuming practice to be sure and may not be beneficial for everyone. For me, the extra time it takes me represents my belief that I can only teach as much as I learn.
Not to mention, my kids have been loving flipping through our little song book and reminiscing on the songs we have been learning. This is a collaborative learning effort for us after all, and I think they have been enjoying seeing our progress in a more tangible way.