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My first few weeks teaching primary school students, I avoided singing songs in the classroom. Singing at work? It felt like cheating.

Eventually, I asked an English teacher who was Chinese for feedback. She actually advised me to start leading my students in learning songs.

Once I started incorporating songs into my lessons, kids gave me their full attention. I quickly realized that there are multiple benefits to singing in the classroom.

First, singing breaks up the monotony of class. If students worked hard at an exercise for ten minutes, I rewarded them by having them stand up to sing one of their favorite English songs.

Second, jingles are fantastic learning tools. They help students memorize vocabulary with the tunes and hooks.

Third, standing up and dancing for a couple minutes helps students release energy. Many of them were more likely to sit still after I let them bop around for a while.

So scroll through videos on Youku. Warm up your vocals. Put your dancing shoes on. Here are Chinese students’ favorite songs.

1. “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”

This is a great song for children to practice their knowledge of body parts. If your students are learning parts of the face, you can also teach them the additional lines, which read “Eyes and ears and mouth and nose.”

At my school, kids typically started studying body parts around Grade 3.

2. “A-Tooty-Ta”

I used to sing this song at camp as a kid, and I was thrilled when a fellow English teacher showed me this video in China! I introduced the song to my students. None of them had heard it before, and they loved it.

A-Tooty-Ta” is another great song for kids to learn body parts. It also teaches directions, as some of the lines are, “Elbows back, tongue out!”

This song is super goofy, so some kids might be bashful about dancing. If you dance around with them, they’ll get way more into the song and movements. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s still fun to groove to as an adult!

3. “Baby Shark”

This song was my kids’ favorite, hands down. Not only does “Baby Shark” teach vocabulary related to fish, but it also teaches vocabulary about family members.

Included in the song are Baby Shark, Mama Shark, Grandma Shark, and more.

Don’t just sit back and have them watch the video. Incorporate hand movements to make it more fun!

4. “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

If You’re Happy and You Know It” is many foreign teachers’ go-to song for young learners.

This song teaches emotions, such as “happy,” “scared,” and “sleepy.” Kids get to act out different emotions, and they have a lot of fun pretending to be angry or running away when they are scared.

5. “4 Seasons”

If you’re teaching grades 1 or 2, your students will probably be learning about seasons and weather. Kids love this song because the vocabulary is simple, but the music style is rock and roll. They feel really cool singing it.

I didn’t expect kids to like this song so much, but after “Baby Shark,” it was easily their next favorite of the year.

6. “The Wheels on the Bus”

I taught this song to students when they were learning about modes of transportation. Obviously, the song uses the word “bus” repeatedly. But you can also pause the video and point to the cars, asking what they are and what color they are.

The Wheels on the Bus” uses a lot of repetition, which helps students memorize the lyrics.

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SDE International - Shenzhen

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About the Author:

Laura Grace Tarpley
Laura Grace Tarpley is a freelance writer and English teacher in Shenzhen, China. She enjoys tinkering with crossword puzzles, reading Bill Bryson books, and taking naps on her huge couch. Follow her travels on her Instagram and Twitter. Or you can check out her blog, Let’s Go, Tarpley!
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