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Wednesday, December 10, 2014


No, there's nothing wrong with your computer!  That's "Tooty Ta" in French and you have to read about what Coco Banks is doing to entice her students to learn French through music.

Imagine teaching a foreign language to 3 and 4 year olds and keeping them convinced that this is worth their time and attention on a daily basis. Needless to say, a little creativity is needed. Songs are definitely a favorite tool and we have days when all we do is sing (or so it seems). Walking into class, we have a song for that. Sitting on the carpet, we have a song for that. Keeping quiet, we have a song for that. Saying “Bon appétit” at snack time, we have a song for that, too. And all these songs are made up. Sometimes on the spot. We all do it, singing to the tune of “B-I-N-G-O,” “I’m a Little Teapot,” or “Are you sleeping?” But some of these do get a little stale and even young children get sick of recycling tunes over and over. So I started translating Dr. Jean’s songs for my students and these remain all time favorites.
Of course I had to find a translation for “Tooty Ta” first, which is called “Tchic et Tchac” in French and is just as popular in the foreign language.

The difference with using Dr. Jean’s songs was that the kids sang along easily as if they were singing in English. With these fun and silly songs there is no self-consciousness or shyness. These songs have a cultural link to the kids who are native English speakers and respond excitedly to these modern, youthful tunes. The kids just belt out in the most beautiful and broken French I have ever heard. It is truly delightful.

Thanks to Dr. Jean’s generosity I was able to share a video on my blog of a translation I made of “What Is the Weather” (Que dit la météo) with accompanying flashcards.

Some of the families have printed the flashcards and stuck them on the fridge and sing the weather song together in the morning. Imagine that! The parents also find the songs fun and catchy and this has enabled the learning to continue at home. With these tools, there is a real chance that my students will keep speaking and practicing French well into elementary school and beyond. It may sound small but it makes me cherish the art of teaching what I do every day.

Here are links to the videos and flashcards: