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Language Through Music

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Dear Debi,
My nephew goes to a preschool where they compliment all areas of language learning with music. It seems that he is learning a lot through this experience. Would it be a good idea to include more music and songs at home?
Jenny H. Mathews
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Make music part of your daily activities
  • Use music to teach & practice new vocabulary
  • Experiment with music
Expert Advice
Mike Salas
Mike Salas
Preschool teacher
Children love music so much because the melody of music can be very soothing – music instills very positive feelings in children. There’s also rhythm and movement involved; kids can clap and move to it – which is good because kids don’t like to sit still. Also, something that most people don’t consider is that, besides their parents’ voices, music is one of the first things children are exposed to. They’re hearing music from the time they’re lying in their cribs.

It’s important to include music in your children’s daily activities because it’s one of the things kids have been exposed to the longest. Music can also be used to teach many concepts, especially language. Children are learning while doing something they love to do and they don’t even know they’re learning! Also, music is something that can be done with children of all ages and all abilities. Music can be especially good for children with speech delays. Singing songs is often a good way to help them with their pronunciation.

You can also use music to teach concepts like math. No matter what the age, kids are learning rhythm and, with older children, you can begin to have them differentiate between instruments, differentiate between loud and soft music, differentiate between high and low notes, etc. All of this helps to build their language skills.

Music can also help give them language to express their feelings. In my school, we have songs called “I Don’t Like You” and “When I’m Sad I Cry.” We sing these songs because the preschool years can be challenging for children as they learn to express themselves. Many times they don’t have the language to express their feelings so they get frustrated. Through these songs, you’re showing them the language to use to express their feelings.

Since traditional children’s music can be heard everywhere, most people tend to stay with children’s music. But what you should keep in mind is that it’s good to expose kids to all kinds of music. You shouldn’t necessarily stay with one genre of music, but instead introduce them to different kinds of music. This can help build their vocabulary and introduce new language. The more musical variety you expose kids to, the more opportunity for conversation and language development there will be.
Child Care Provider Comments
Jane Fung
Jane Fung
Mother of 5-year-old
I have lots of CDs of traditional children songs as well as modern stuff. Both types provide numerous hours of exposure to new vocabulary and learning concepts for my son. His speech and pronunciation of sounds and words has improved, and he has learned many concepts through the songs. The songs also provide him with activities to do in the car. He can point to colors and shapes, sing along, and respond to songs.
Suyapa Espinoza
Suyapa Espinoza
Cares for her niece and nephew
My niece attends a bilingual school, so they teach her songs in both Spanish and English. For Christmas, she was learning both English and Spanish songs. So she learns both languages at the same time. It has helped my niece in her vocabulary and also in learning Spanish, because my sister focused on just teaching them in English.
Bridgette Smith
Bridgette Smith
Mother of two, expecting her third child
Children are intrigued by the rhythm of music and the beat of the songs. I think sing-along songs are excellent. Music and songs help in building children’s vocabulary and enunciation of words. They can even pick up foreign languages quickly when you incorporate music. I’ve noticed that at my son’s school, the teacher starts their day with music and song. They are learning their numbers, the months, and days of the year in English and Spanish.

Music and Dramatic Play Featured Activity:
Music and Dramatic Play
Language Through Music Featured Video:
Language Through Music
Topic: Play & Creativity
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Resources
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
 
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