Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English

Posted by: P.M.

Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 02/25/13 10:53 PM

I am a piano teacher who lives in a predominantly Chinese community and teach mostly Chinese children since they live close by. Most of them speak English. However, recently I got a student who is four, and has only been in this country for several months and speaks limited English. The parents really wanted her to take lessons and so I took her on. She is getting better at the English (she also attends pre-school which helps) as well as the practicing. Her father translates whatever she cannot understand, though over time, I require his help less and less. I have her play for me for 15 of the 30 minute lesson that I give. The other time is spent on other activities such as singing, keeping the beat to a song, recognizing high versus low or same versus different melody.

My question is this.....what are some other good musical activities to do with children that young who speak very little English? Or even with language-challenged students in general?
Posted by: malkin

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 02/25/13 11:04 PM

Remember that she really doesn't have native adult language competence, so go ahead and speak English to her, and make sure you have enough non-linguistic context (visual, tactile, auditory) to support the meaning.
Posted by: ten left thumbs

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 02/26/13 02:48 AM

This is from music mind games - give her cards with the English alphabet A-G printed on them and have her place them on the floor in correct order. You need a few sets, so she can see after G comes the next A. Once she knows the order you can do games like she closes her eyes, you hide a card, and she guesses which one you hid.
Posted by: Gary D.

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 02/26/13 11:55 AM

My problem is with PARENTS who speak little or no English. If the parent speaks English, I just talk to the parent, since I teach the parent how to teach what I go over at home. Talk to parent, show child.

The young child will soon be speaking English with no trouble. That is a minor issue.
Posted by: rada

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 02/26/13 12:01 PM

Interesting situation. I like to play Hide&Seek....where I play 3 keys [ I tell them the starting key]...they hide their eyes and then try to play it back..pretty much I stay on middle C for a starting point but maybe this game can spur other aural ideas for you.

rada
Posted by: P.M.

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 02/26/13 02:00 PM

Dear Gary,

I do talk to the parent and explain but the little girl picks up fast and so I usually talk to her with her father there and show her and she gets it. If not, the dad chimes in and tells her in Chinese. I just have to repeat myself a lot with her since she forgets just like all small children. Thanks for the input though.
Posted by: AZNpiano

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 02/26/13 03:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Gary D.
My problem is with PARENTS who speak little or no English.

You just described a dilemma faced by numerous teachers in public schools.

The little ones pick up English like a sponge. Can't say the same about their parents.
Posted by: Oongawa

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 04/01/13 09:33 PM

I can offer a little insight.

As an elementary kid, I took lessons from a teacher who spoke no english, and I spoke no spanish. I think lessons lasted about a year and a half or so.

I learned to read music pretty well, and played from eatrly level method books, and accompanied the church children's choir.

Learning to read notes was no problem but some things require a verbal explanation that I never got and so my education is a bit lopsided. For example, really understanding what constitutes a "key" - i knew sometimes a note was flat or sharp but never the logic of the groupings, or what an interval was. Or what a chord was, though I knew sometimes notes were played together, the concept of chords was outside the realm of possibility for explanation.

So, sure, you can get the basics across, and she can have fun with it, but if she works hard at practice it won't take long before the language barrier will prevent you from conveying a well rounded musical education.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 04/01/13 11:47 PM

Originally Posted By: Oongawa
I knew sometimes a note was flat or sharp but never the logic of the groupings, or what an interval was. Or what a chord was.


And you accompanied a choir without knowing what a key, interval, or chord was? wink
Posted by: TimR

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 04/02/13 11:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Oongawa
I knew sometimes a note was flat or sharp but never the logic of the groupings, or what an interval was. Or what a chord was.


And you accompanied a choir without knowing what a key, interval, or chord was? wink


Apparently that wasn't really necessary.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 04/03/13 12:29 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Oongawa
I knew sometimes a note was flat or sharp but never the logic of the groupings, or what an interval was. Or what a chord was.


And you accompanied a choir without knowing what a key, interval, or chord was? wink

It is quite possible to play what is on the page without having knowledge of these things. You can play E, then A, without being able to say that it's a P4. You can play a C chord without knowing that it's a C chord, or that there is a name "major" for its quality. Why should this not be possible? And why the wink?
Posted by: Barb860

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 04/03/13 03:39 PM

Originally Posted By: malkin
Remember that she really doesn't have native adult language competence, so go ahead and speak English to her, and make sure you have enough non-linguistic context (visual, tactile, auditory) to support the meaning.


Yes I agree.

I have a 5 year old student who speaks very little English (same as his parents).
He is a joy to teach. We don't talk much and get lots done!
We play board games by Susan Paradis for the last few minutes of his half hour lesson. www.susanparadis.com (rhythm games, intervals, note names) check it out. I laminate the games. Great for little kids.
Posted by: Charles Cohen

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 04/04/13 11:10 AM

One more thing you might try:

. . . Rhythm games.

It doesn't take much languages to get across:

. . . You play that pattern . . . while I play this pattern . .

. . . and then you start to improvise against the beat . . .

African drumming is based on the interplay of reasonably simple counter-rhythms, and you can have a _lot_ of fun (and develop a _lot_ of skill) from that base.

For adults, this leads to "drum circles". I don't know what the kid-equivalent is called.

. Charles

PS -- It sounds like you could live in Richmond BC, as I do.
Posted by: lechuan

Re: Teaching Very Young Student Who Speaks No English - 04/04/13 06:22 PM

I cheated, I learned to speak Mandarin smile