Songs and Chants in the Foreign Language Classroom – Motivational,  Effective Language Learning Techniques

Robin Harvey, New York University & Greenwich Village Chinese

Pauline Huang,  St Hilda’s & St Hugh’s School, Baruch College


Research shows that incorporating music into the foreign language classroom creates a low anxiety, creative learning experience highly conducive to language learning.  Songs and chants based on natural, communicative language feature the repetition necessary to successful language learning, and chants emphasize the rhythms and patterns of speech (including, in Chinese, the tones). We will demonstrate how these techniques can be brought to foreign language teaching to create motivated, engaged students and a dynamic and effective learning environment.

We will present real examples from Chinese classrooms (ours and others) where songs and chants have been used with great success, and discuss using illustrations and visual aids to enrich the materials.  Participants will learn to create their own songs, chants and song-based activities and lesson plans, and to help their students create their own songs or chants for performance in the classroom, for the school at large, and for parents. Ultimately, participants will understand the value of using creative activities including songs and chants in the classroom to motivate and engage their students and encourage creative use of the language they have learned.



The presenters are the authors and illustrator of the book “Rhythms and Tones,” a book and CD of songs, chants and supplementary materials for the Chinese Language classroom.