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Two international children\'s songs and Language learning

已有 2373 次阅读 2022-6-1 12:34 |个人分类:语言文学|系统分类:人文社科

   Comparison of the lyrics of two international children's songs  and their usage in language learning

  Children's songs are conducive to children's learning and development. Good songs can improve children’s language and communication skills, encourage their imagination, increase their confidence, and help children social and emotional development. 

Therefore, good nursery rhymes can also be spread internationally and become the "universal language of the world".

On the occasion of Children's Day, two children's songs has just come into my mind, namely, “Are you sleeping (Brother John) and "Little Star(Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)". These two tunes came from Europe in the 1600-1700s , and now are commonly sung by children in many countries, while the content of the lyrics varies from country to country. For example, the former one changed its name in Chinese as "Two Tigers"(两只老虎) .

The role of nursery rhymes in promoting children's language learning, is not only in native language learning, but in foreign language acquisition. Hence, we can give full play of the role of these songs spread in different countries. 

This is a kind of comprehensive associative learning. We can make use of nursery rhymes in learners’ childhood memories to memorize the characters or letters and words in various languages at the beginning of foreign language learning. If you want to find the tune of childhood memories of a learner to the deepest, even to the memory of the first two or three years old in his or her life, I guessthe most popular nursery rhymes must be Brother John ( in Chinese "Two Tigers")

Thirty years ago,when I taught primary English, I made use of these musical elements in children's minds, teach them to sing  English alphabet song "ABC" and "Brother John". It was only later I discovered that the tune of the children's song "Two Tigers", which is well known to Chinese children, came from the West and was initially related to church. In China, the lyrics were changed to "Tigers without ears or tails", which are rather weird to children.

  Composer Mozart is remembered for his precocious, prolific, and beautiful and unforgettable melodies. The tune of "Little Star", known to English speakers as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", is considered by many to be one of Mozart's earliest works. In fact, this statement is not true. Mozart did write a set of piano variations in the early 1780s, which was probably a piano etude prepared by a young Mozart for his music students, based on the popular French folk song "Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman" "(Ah, Mom, I wanted to tell you) a variation of the composition. The lyrics of the lyrics are: "Ah, Mom, I want to tell you what makes me miserable. Dad wants me to be as sensible as an adult, but I said those sweets are more important than sensible." So the authorship of this song is still unclear. As for the English lyrics of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", it originated from a poem by British writer Jane Taylor, published in 1806 under the name "The Star". Children's songs in other countries are translated and adapted based on this poem.

It was possible for us to be exposed to international background from the very beginning of learning (for example,when we learned a rhythm at the age of two) . True to the saying, "Music is the universal language of the world". On the other hand, although the tunes sung by children are the same in many countries, the lyrics are in different national languages, reflecting cultural differences from the very beginning. As the cultural anthropologist Ruth Benedict said in his book Patterns of Culture:

From the moment of his birth, the customs into which he is born shape his experience and behaviour. By the time he can talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time he is grown and able to take part in its activities, its habits are his habits, its beliefs his beliefs, its impossibilities his impossibilities.  

The following link is on the different lyrics of the two international childrens rhythms: 

Different lyrics of two international children's rhythms and language acquiring

多国传唱的两首儿歌比较与语言习得



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