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La canción como vehículo poético y como creación literaria en la clase de inglés. Tipología de canciones. Técnicas del uso de la canción para el aprendizaje fonético, lexical y cultural.



Autora: Mayte Agudo Crespo



1. Introduction.

2. Songs as a poetic vehicle and a literary creation in the English class.

2.1.- Motivation.

2.2.- Linguistic advantages.

2.3.- Discovering another culture.

3. Different kind of songs.

3.1. Chants.

3.2. Traditional songs.

3.3. Pop songs.

3.4. Specially written songs for English learners.

3.5. Action songs

4.Techniques to use songs for the learning of phonetics, vocabulary and culture.

4.1- How to choose the right song.

4.2- Exploiting songs.

4.2.1. Activities to introduce songs and get the most of them.

a- How to introduce a song

b- When to use songs

c- Procedure to use action songs

d- Procedure to use chants

e- Follow-up activities

4.2.2 Avoiding some possible problems.

5. Conclusion.

6. Bibliography.




The Ministry of Education and its Organic Law for the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE) dating 9th December,2013and the Royal Decree 126/2014,28thFebruary 2014, that establishes the curriculum for Primary Education, both provide guidelines to developed basic objectives, contents and methodological approaches for the teaching of English. Songs will help us teachers to reach these objectives and teach English successfully.

According to the Law, children should develop a communicative competence in at least a foreign language at the end of their compulsory schooling. Therefore the principal aim of learning English is to communicate orally and in writing. This includes different aspects such as recognition and reproduction of the English sounds and intonation, understanding of the vocabulary related to the children’s world, use of grammatical structures, etc. With songs we will work all these aspects.

Learning a foreign language also implies an important aim which is discovering another culture and developing a curiosity, understanding and respect about it. Using songs will help us to accomplish these objectives and help children to develop some of the seven competences described in LOMCE, such as the linguistic competence, the social and citizen competence and the cultural awareness and expression. We will also help to develop the digital competence when using songs downloaded from internet, or shown in a video clip or used with a karaoke, etc.

The Royal Decree also states that children will learn English in a natural way and so we need to use an active and playful methodology that keep children’s interest and make them participate in their learning process. Teachers should therefore use the appropriate materials and activities related to children’s interest and own world. Music and rhythm make things much easier to imitate and remember language than words which are just spoken. This is the reason why children learn much of their basic mother tongue in songs, rhymes or chants which contains relatively uncontrolled language. When you teach children a song, it remains in their memory. Therefore, foreign language learners should experience English in much the same way.

LOMCEand the Royal Decree also adds that teachers have to take into account the different paces in children’s development (mixed ability) not only in the Primary Stage, but also in the Infant Stage where English should be introduced. Songs will definitively help us teachers to cover different learning paces and interests and they are essential in the Infant classes where singing is highly motivating for young kids.

In this unit I am going to explain why songs should be used in the English class, then I will define different kinds of songs and finally I will present some important techniques to take into account when using songs.



2. Songs as a poetic vehicle and a literary creation in the english class.

Songs are poems with music. Songs have got rhythm, rime, and provide beauty and fun. Songs can introduce children in different worlds and emotions. That is why songs are a poetic vehicle.


2.1.- Motivation.

Children love singing. Songs provide enjoyable opportunities to acquire features of English pronunciation with no great difficulty. When words are linked to rhythm and music they have more emotive and personal significance and that is why they are remembered better. Children will be happy repeating the same structures and words, over and over again without getting bored.


2.2.- Linguistic advantages.

Songs reinforce language. They can be used to introduce and practice individual sounds, stress and rhythmic patterns, intonation, vocabulary, grammatical structures, conversational exchanges and cultural aspects.


2.3.- Discovering another culture.

Songs introduce the culture of a country and help the students understand aspects of a different culture.

In most cases, the songs used to teach English are specially written to tie in closely with the topic of the unit and sung to tunes which are well-known or traditional in British children’s culture. The combining of well-known or traditional tunes with new or adapted words is a technique used very frequently in primary schools. This not only fosters cultural familiarity with well-known children’s music, but in cases where children already know the tunes, facilitates learning the songs.



3.- Different kind of songs.

3.1.- Chants.

A chant is like a song without music or a poem with a very marked rhythm. It is very easy to turn ordinary language into chants. If you listen to children playing, very often you will probably hear something like this: `na na na na , I’m better than you-ou-ou´, chanted in a sing-song voice. Children find it quite natural to turn almost anything into a chant. You can fit the words to any topic you are doing or you can encourage the children to make up a little tune to a chant if they want to, and to make  up new chants of their own.


3.2.- Traditional songs.

Sometimes they contain an obscure or old fashioned language which can be an extra difficulty, but they do have the advantage of being part of English speaking culture.

Listening and doing actions is the best way to exploit traditional songs where the words are often difficult to understand. The actions keep the children interested and give them a reason for listening.


3.3.- Pop songs.

Many English pop songs are well known, even to the youngest learners, especially the theme songs to films or television series. Older children find working with current pop songs highly motivating. Although the language can be difficult, children  love using them in class. They enjoy working with popular songs so much that they are willing to face up too difficult language, and will often sing along when the song is played. 


3.4.- Specially written songs for English learners.

Another alternative is to use well-known tunes and put your own words to them. Here is an example using the traditional French tune  `Frère Jacques´`.

In the garden, in the garden

I can see, I can see          

Butterflies and flowers, 

Butterflies and flowers,

Birds and trees,

Birds and trees.


3.5.- Action songs

The children do the actions as they listen to and sing songs. With action songs children show understanding by responding non-verbally. When songs are accompanied by drama, movement or actions they really help reinforce meaning, aid memory and are fun for children to do. These songs can be sang or just mimed, keeping the words and music in their minds. For example it is very easy to sing and mime the famous song `Head and shoulders’ by touching the different parts of the body that are mentioned. Then a good exercise is to touch the different parts but keep in your mind the word and the rhythm of the song.

Head and shoulders               And eyes and ears 

Knees and toes, knees and toes      And mouth and nose

Head and shoulders                           Head and shoulders 

Knees and toes, knees and toes      Knees and toes, knees and toes



4.- Techniques to use songs for the learning of phonetics, vocabulary and culture.

4.1- How to choose the right song.

You need to select the songs you use very carefully.  When choosing a pop song, for example, you should pay special attention to these questions: Is the language too difficult? Can you hear the words?  Is the singer’s voice clear enough? Is the subject-matter suitable?

Songs are easily learnt if they immediately catch the learner’s interest. Any new song should, therefore, be simple enough in vocabulary and structure for the learners to understand. It must be appropriate to their age level and it must be relevant to their experiences and interest.


4.2.- Exploiting songs.

4.2.1.- Activities to introduce songs and get the most of them.


4.3.- Avoiding some possible problems.

It is better not try to do too much in one session. The first couple of times, you can play the song and sing it once or twice and encourage the children to join in. There will always be some children who do not sing and it is not advisable to insist on it. If the song is catchy and simple enough, they will normally want to sing it.




As a conclusion I would like to say that songs are an excellent tool to be used in the English class because of their motivational and linguistic advantages. Children will enjoy singing and dancing and they will develop a sense of group by singing together. They will develop creativity when using different techniques. They will discover different worlds and emotions through songs. And in this way, they will face poetry and literature. On the other hand, they will improve their communicative competence through songs because they will repeat sounds, vocabulary and structures by singing the same song.

Finally, by using songs in the English class, we will use that active, playful and meaningful methodology that the Ministry of Education asks teachers to develop and therefore help our students to achieve the communicative competence as well as the social and citizen competence, the cultural awareness and expression and the digital competence.




  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN. Law for the Improvement of the Quality of Education (LOMCE) dating 9th December,2013.
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN. Royal Decree 126/2014,  28thFebruary 2014, that establishes the curriculum for Primary Education,
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN Y CIENCIA, Guía documental: lenguas extranjeras. Primaria. Madrid, 1993.
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN Y CIENCIA, Orientaciones didácticas. Primaria. Madrid, 1992.
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN Y CIENCIA, Guía de recursos didácticos. Lenguas extranjeras. Primaria. Madrid, 1994.
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN Y CIENCIA, Orientaciones didácticas. Primaria. Madrid, 1993.
  • MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN Y CIENCIA, Área de lenguas extranjeras. Primaria. Madrid,1992.
  • NUNAN,D. Language teaching methodology. Chapter VI. Mastering the sounds of the language. Prentice hall. London,1991.
  • MURPHY,T. Music and song. Oxford University Press.  Oxford,1992.
  • GRAHAM,C.  Jazz Chants for children. Oxford University Press. The USA, 1979.
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