Let's Chant

If you use the Hi, friends! software with your students, you'll know there are some chants (and much more) available. Many people hate on these chants but I think you can get a lot out of them if you understand how students learn English (a.k.a. second language acquisition).

Rocking Hi, friends! Chants

The chants in Hi, friends! can be a great learning tool. Here's why:

  • It's a great way to practice speaking before putting it into simulated-real use.
  • It's a fun way to do listening with elementary students. (More on this below!)
  • Kids need to move and be active; chants let them stand up and by adding gestures they're moving around, making noise and having fun.

Listening First

Before forcing students to produce (speak) new language, we should give them plenty of time to listen and get comfortable with the new language. Initially the sounds then ideally, if they can reach comprehension through listening (input), it'll make the output phase easier. Without comprehension; it's just parroting.

Here's the magic: let students listen to a chant a few times before you start singing. Not just listening though - you need to give them a reason to listen.

Give them simple listening tasks each time you listen to guide comprehension. (Specific examples below.) These might seem way too easy but imagine you're a child learning French (or Chinese) - it's not easy! Also really important: let them check their answers with their neighbours.

For new ALT's wondering how the heck students can understand these questions I'll tell you that I actually use Japanese to ask students these questions. If you don't speak Japanese, ask the HRT to ask the students in your pre-lesson meeting

Chanting

Once students have listened a few times and through comprehension questions gained an understanding of the chant, it's time to try singing.

Gestures

After singing through the chant once, it's a good time to add gestures. Ask your students for gestures for each part of the chant and select gestures for everyone to use. Funny but relevant gestures let students have fun while keeping the activity grounded in the meaning of the words.

Original Lyrics

Chants can be used over multiple lessons. Once students are very comfortable with the chant, try using the karaoke feature. From there, you can get suggestions from students and change certain words and associated gestures to make an original chant.

Chanting Ideas for Hi, friends! 1

I'm going to wirte these up super soon but please look at Hi, 2 ideas to get a basic idea of how to rock hi friends chants.

Chanting Ideas for Hi, friends! 2

Lesson 1 chant  How many penguins?

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • What animals are there? (There are one, two animals. What animals?)
  • How many penguins?
  • How many monkeys?

Adding Gestures

  • Penguin gesture
  • Monkey gesture - Get animal gestures from students
  • Count with your fingers - For 41: "forty" - show 4 fingers, "one" - show one finger.)

Lesson 1 chant  ABCs (chant option 2,3, and 4)

Adding Gestures

This is an ABC song. There's little in here to understand - really it's a tool to remember the names of the letters. I still like to spice it up with some extra movement.

  • Banzai! - During the pause, throw your hands in the air. You may also want to scream with glee (or shout out loud). Young students love this.
    A B C D E F G whoo!
    H I J K L M N whoo!...

Lesson 2 chant  Twelve months

Listening Questions

  • Which months are said twice?

Adding Movement

Again, there's no easy way to use gestures to backup meaning here, so movement is just for fun. Warning: with the suggestions below, students easily get over-excited so ensure students are saying all months.

  • Step 1: On your birthday month, throw your hands up in the air (hallelujah!).
  • Step 2: Next, throw up your hands and jump on your birthday month. (Students love this!)

Extra

  • Step 3: Say your birthday month extra loud. (I recommend demonstrating saying all months so students don't only say their birthday month.)

Lesson 3 chant  Can you swim?

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • What sports can you hear?
  • (If the students don't give you other answers...) What else?
  • Can he play soccer? Yes? No? (same for 4 other actions)

Adding Gestures

  • Get gestures for the verbs from the students. Ridiculous gestures are funny!
  • Ask students how to show "No, I can't." If it's a hand gesture, add a sad face too. Show a happy face for "I can ..."
  • Ask students for a question gesture.

Original Lyrics

Try karaoke and once the students can do it, think up original lyrics. Keep in mind rhythm and syllables, but it can be the silly type of fun to try saying "I can play basketball and ride a unicyle." in place of "I can cook and swim."

As always, get suggestions from students and select appropriate ones.

Eg. "Can you play soccer basketball? No, I can't. Can you play baseball do sumo? No, I can't. Can you play the piano recorder? No, I can't. But I can cook sing and swim play table tennis."

If your class gets as far as creating their own original version, do it again the following week. You can trust that the class will remember the words and gestures and they'll enjoy doing their own chant again.

Lesson 4 chant  Where is the station?

Chant once.

Next, add movement, getting gestures from the students.

Next, go to karaoke.

Next, create an original version. You can change the places with suggestions from the students and you can also change the directions but you should remain in control of this. "Go straight, go straight" can change to "Go straight, turn left." or "Turn right, go straight."

Lesson 5 chant  Let's go to Italy.

This set of chants is the most confusing set of chants in the whole textbook (personal opinion). The first version simply lists nouns as reasons why Italy is a nice country. Next, the chant introduces the concept of "I want to verb..." The final version changes to "You can verb..."

So, you can choose either to try show the different concepts of these different grammar sets or you can just treat it as an example of saying something without worrying about what it means exactly. Personally, I prefer focusing on one concept for multiple lessons rather that a new one every lesson.

First, chant.

Next add gestures.

Next, go to karaoke.

Next, create original versions. Get new destinations from students and help them add selling points about the country (because students of this age probably don't know too much about other countries, especially reasons why they would want to visit there). You might want to save this till the 2nd or 3rd class of Lesson 5.

Lesson 6  What time do you get up?

So nice gestures for this chant are: looking at your watch; throwing your arms out palms up in the "what?" gesture; waking up, walking/skipping happily to school while holding the straps of your backpack, and going to sleep gestures.

Create original lyrics by asking some students what time they do the three things from the chant (get up, go to school, go to bed) and using those times (written on the blackboard so everyone can remember) in the chant.
Alternatively, or in combination with actual student times, change the action too.
WARNING: Don't try to change all of it at once. Step by step. Also, draw stuff on the board so you can point and all students know what's happening.
NOTE: Timing will be off so you'll be jamming multiple syllables into single beats. It's not pretty but kids love it!

Super complicated: This might not work in every class but change the lyrics so the class asks one student, that student answers then everyone repeats that students' answer. First, you'd have to be the one to take the solo part so the students can see how to do it, then brave/confident students could volunteer to try playing your role. Again, get the times in advance and write them on the board. End with applause.
Everyone: "Hey Name, what time, do you get up?"
Solo: "At actual time."
Everyone: "At repeat actual time. I get up at actual time."

Lesson 7  We are good friends.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of this chant but there's still fun to be had!

If you have some rowdy students that love to show off in front of the class, get 4 of them to each take a role from the chant - Momotaro, Monkey, Dog, and Bird. Do the chant as a class. Next, with the HRT's help explaining what strong and brave mean, get gestures from the students, as well as gestures for each character to show who they are.
Once the class has the chant down (maybe over several classes), call on the show-off students to come up and in time with the chant, the come "on stage" giving their best character gestures and strong/brave gestures.
As long as you do this in a big class with students who are confident enough being silly in front of everyone, the class will love watching the show-off students perform.

Another option, in line with what I normally do for this lesson, is to create an original chant. The story plot doesn't change too much but the character names and the destination change. Get suggestions from students to change the underlined lyrics.

I am Momotaro, strong and brave.
I am Monkey, strong and brave.
I am Dog, strong and brave.
I am Bird, strong and brave.
We are strong and brave.
We are good friends.
Let's go to Onigashima.
Let's go to Onigashima.
Let's go. Let's go. Let's go!

Lesson 8  What do you want to be?

This is a very simple chant.

What, what, what do you want to be?
A singer. A singer.
I want to be a singer.
I want to be a singer.
Good luck!

Make it a bit more interesting by asking students for suggestions and changing the profession. Make sure to add new gestures for each new profession, again, from students' suggestions.

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